How do you make someone into an icon? How about asking Donatella Versace? Despite her sometimes derisory press she seems to know a thing or two about PR and out-lasting most. The 57-year-old designer and sister of deceased designer Gianni, addressed 330 students at Oxford University this week. Billed as a ‘conversation’ about style, she was joined by acting chum Rupert Everett and others at the Oxford Union.
Addressing the students, she referred to her old Alma mater the University of Florence and her surprise at now, many years later, speaking at Oxford University. “My class mates from back then would be very amused to see me at Oxford today. And I’m sure there will be others who will be astonished to find me addressing the Union. But maybe I can surprise a few people?”
Turning up at the Union with her characteristic ice blond hair, copper tan and bumble bee lips, she was dressed in a black, leather studded dress, giving the crowd what they came to see. She didn’t disappoint. Mentioning that she would like to dress the Queen one day (in black) she unintentionally highlighted the irony that both women share more than they realize. Neither of their public personas have changed in twenty years.
The PR Verdict: “A” for Donatella. She knows how not to disappoint. Consistency is what creates a brand and a following.
PR Takeaway: Consistency means you don’t surprise and disappoint your followers. Donatella’s branding and PR is so successful because it so rarely surprises. Saying little of any substance but giving the public what it wants is the reason she continues to be invited and feted. Pass the spray tan.
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