While museums stand as paradigms of culture and gatekeepers to a world of knowledge, luxury brands—far better known for their opulence—may seem a world away.

Yet, the two are far more similar than one might think, says Sonja Prokopec, LVMH Chaired Professor and ESSEC Associate Academic Director, Center of Excellence in Luxury, Art & Culture—Asia Pacific.

For one thing, appreciating a luxury item, like a piece of art, requires cultural understanding. Both are exclusive and high in value but struggle with a disconnect from society.

“Museums today are facing what luxury brands dealt with a while back. They are interesting to a knowledgeable audience but find it a challenge to be more accessible and to reach more people,” Prokopec observes.

With this in mind, she contacted the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), Singapore’s national museum of Asian antiquities and decorative art, to collaborate on a digital marketing competition for her Luxury Brand Management students from the MSc in Marketing Management and Digital (MMD) program.

A Picture-perfect Partnership

The connection couldn’t be more perfect for ACM, as its collections are “all about aesthetic and craft excellence and celebrating the fact that in Asia there’s a millennium of sophistication and excellence,” Kennie Ting, Director of ACM, shares.

Working with ESSEC also brought two main advantages: firstly, the diversity of the MMD cohort is aligned with ACM’s international outlook, and second, access to the perspectives of the younger generation.

Ting adds that the business school’s insights are particularly relevant for ACM’s exhibition, Life in Edo x Russel Wong in Kyoto. The showcase juxtaposes traditional Edo period Japanese woodblock prints with contemporary photographs of Kyoto by renowned Singaporean fashion photographer Russel Wong.

The theme is geared toward younger, more design-focused, and lifestyle-oriented audiences—making the ESSEC MMD students a perfect fit. The question was: How would the students position and promote the exhibition?

Challenge Accepted

The MMD cohort had just two months to design a strategy to reach new audiences interested in the luxury, lifestyle, fashion, and design fields to drive online visitor numbers to the physical museum. They also had the challenge of cementing ACM’s reputation as the go-to museum for the luxury, lifestyle, and fashion scene.

Prokopec, who coached the MMD students through this process, shares that judges were looking out for the rigor of their methodology and the creativity of their strategy. Ten teams were whittled down to four before ACM decided on a winning team based on their proposed plans.

Having led nearly a hundred collaborations with partners over the years, Prokopec notes: “I’ve never had a project where our students didn’t bring something of value to the brand or the partner.”

Did the students deliver? Go behind-the-scenes to discover their process and which team eventually emerged victorious. Life in Edo x Russel Wong in Kyoto is exhibited at the Asian Civilisations Museum until 19 September 2021.