John Hardy is banking on a new campaign featuring actress Julianne Moore and model Adwoa Aboah to help it regain relevance and cement itself as not just a silversmith, but also a full-blown luxury jeweler.
Dubbed “Made for Legends,” the campaign is a nod to the brand’s target consumers, which the team describes as artistically-inclined “women of character and substance,” mostly in their forties. It was shot by photographers Luigi Murenu and Iango Henzi, and is only the second time the company has featured a celebrity. (Cara Delevingne starred in its fall 2014 and spring 2015 campaigns.) The hope is that it will boost sales by roughly 12 percent.
The effort will span digital, print and outdoor (posters) advertising channels, and serves as a celebration of a brand transformation that has been under way for three years.
Behind-the-scenes of the campaign shoot featuring Julianne Moore
That transformation has involved the opening of John Hardy’s first U.S. stores, an e-commerce and product overhaul, and the hiring of the brand’s first female creative director, 31-year-old Hollie Bonneville Barden, who joined in April from DeBeers. All of these decisions have been under the guidance of CEO and American Eagle alum Robert Hanson, who came on board in 2014 when the brand was bought out by L Catterton.
“John Hardy is a beautiful, artisan hand-crafted jewelry brand and a significant competitor,” said Hanson, “but it wasn’t getting the recognition it deserves or performing at its full-potential.”
When Hanson joined, he said, the e-commerce experience was shoddy, the brand had no domestic boutiques, and those in international markets were handled more as a “hobby.” Direct-to-consumer revenue accounted for just 5 percent of the company’s total turnover, with wholesale accounts in stores like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s dominating. Since then, that number has grown to 18 percent, alongside what Hanson would only cite as low-single-digit growth from wholesale distribution.
When John Hardy first refreshed its e-commerce experience back in 2014, the goal was to clean it up aesthetically and improve on what the site could offer. It now ships to 200 countries worldwide.
Julianne Moore in John Hardy’s “Made for Legends” campaign
“It’s important for heritage brands like us to never fall back on complacency,” said Hanson. “You really need to look into what it takes to interpret your brand for today’s marketplace.” What the company found was that, rather than getting bogged down in history (which many newer brands lack, anyway), digitally-native brands were storytelling in a simpler, more emotional way — one that referred more to a brand’s essence than a longer, complex narrative.
Aboah and Moore — chosen for what Hanson sees as their shared values of purposefulness, passion and fearlessness — will be regularly seen wearing the brand’s jewelry at events and in their free time. They’ll also be promoting the campaign across their social media accounts and attending a launch event in New York City later this month.
Behind-the-scenes of the campaign shoot with Adwoa Aboah
Hanson sees it as an authentic pairing, even if they’re being paid (the company wouldn’t disclose how much). “They have so many obvious choices [of who to work with],” he argued. “I think they’re quite discriminating about who they choose to associate themselves with.”
When John and Cynthia Hardy first founded the brand back in 1975, they set up one of these collectives to create the jewelry in Bali, helping to support a local, female-heavy community in need. The brand’s jewelry is still created there today, in Ubud, and now boasts around 700 artisans. Its “Jobs for Life” program also provides Balinese orphans with vocational training, financial support and job opportunities.
In addition, the company privileged sustainable production long before it was in vogue. The brand now uses 100 percent certified reclaimed silver and gold for all of its jewelry, as well as gem stones that have been ethically sourced.
The weaving, sculpting and metal-smithing techniques John Hardy was founded on are still present today, too, though Barden and her team have worked to modernize them by adding more gold and rare gem stones to the mix. On top of revamping the brand’s popular Naga collection, it’s introduced the Modern Chain line to appeal to millennial consumers. It’s a lighter, more minimalist range than the rest, though the prices are equally wide-ranging, from $295-$39,000. The average price point is just above $900.
Adwoa Aboah in John Hardy’s “Made for Legends” campaign
Barden is adamant that luxury jewelry like this is still relevant for today’s consumer — the only difference being that women are self-purchasing far more than before
“There was a sense with jewelry that — given the price point — consumers would be unwilling to engage online,” he said.