Lessons from a Legend

30 Mar 2011|Kalil Vicioso

Elizabeth Taylor was a powerful cultural force for over 50 years. Her beauty and presence captivated many over the span of her career.  She won two Oscars (nominated for 3 others), was the first actress to command $1 million dollars for her role as Cleopatra, married eight times to seven men (and was at the center of celebrity social scandal and gossip), made herself synonymous with fine (and extravagant) jewelry.  With a career and personality like that, Elizabeth Taylor became more than just a person—she created a brand that stood for brashness, glamour, and sensuality. Later in her career Elizabeth Taylor was able to leverage the brashness, glamour, and sensuality associated with her brand to create a fragrance line that includes White Diamonds, Black Pearl, and Passion. White Diamonds continues to be the best selling celebrity fragrance some 25 years after it was launched.

Elizabeth Taylor’s brand also afforded her a powerful pulpit from which to raise awareness and rally people to fight HIV/AIDS as well as the fear and prejudice surrounding this terrible disease at a time when political leaders and other public figures said little or nothing. Her brashness enabled her to step out and speak forcefully and unapologetically. Her fame and glamour opened doors, wallets, and, I would hazard to say, minds.  Already well loved in the Gay community, Elizabeth Taylor went on to become a hero – an icon.

For brands looking to make an impact through their community involvement and social involvement, there is a lesson to be taken in terms of bringing real passion to a cause and then putting real weight behind it. This means committing the pulpit afforded you as a brand and leveraging your brand’s character and personality. In the end you can effect change, open wallets (for the cause and for the brand), change minds, and solidify your relationship with consumers.

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