Rocking the red carpet: the secret to celebrity success

We speak to Ginnina D’Orazio, founder of one of the leading PR agencies in the US, to find out how celebrity placement can transform a brand. 

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Taylor Swift wearing a Noudar choker

In this digital age, when images of celebrities appear online almost instantaneously, a star wearing a particular brand’s jewels on the red carpet can open doors, boost sales and raise awareness with just one photograph. And nobody is more aware of this than Ginnina D’Orazio, founder and president of D’Orazio & Associates, one of the leading PR agencies in the US.

We have worked with Ginnina and her team for years and are always impressed with her lightning-quick responses to the most demanding of requests, but there is one area of PR that D’Orazio really excels: celebrity placement.

You can guarantee that her clients’ jewels will appear on the red carpet at most major events during awards season, but she also has a knack for hunting out the next big things and nurturing relationships with high-profile style icons like Michelle Obama, whose jewellery choices are regularly mused over in the media.

But how does a PR company get jewels onto the red carpet in the first place, and why are brands increasingly putting celebrity brand placement above traditional media? We spoke to Ginnina to find out the secrets of her success.

Which are your biggest red-carpet success stories?

When Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt walked the red carpet together for the first time at the 2007 Golden Globes. That was a huge placement for us - and the brand was picked up by a number of major retail stores as a result.

A defining moment for D’Orazio was when Angelina Jolie stepped out on the red carpet for the first time with Brad Pitt wearing her fine jewellery client’s jewels.

Describe the run-up to an award ceremony 

What many people don’t realise is that the run-up to award season starts in the last quarter of the previous year for us. During that time we are selecting pieces and working with our clients to ensure that we have available the product that will be requested and in demand during award show season. 

I spend countless hours researching and going through archives to make sure the best of the best and most on-trend merchandise is available and ready for our stylists’ needs.  To some degree, the entire year before is research - knowing what stylists are pulling and requesting beforehand guides what we ask for from our clients.

D’Orazio has dressed Rihanna in edgy jewels for many red-carpet events. Photographed here at the 2016 Billboard Awards wearing Hearts on Fire diamonds, just one celebrity red-carpet placement can open a brand up to a global audience. 

How does it feel when a celebrity steps out on the red carpet wearing one of your brands?

It feels great. It is the culmination of hard work and what can be years of relationship building between us, our clients, the stylists and even the talent. Plus, it’s great to see a beautiful, completed look when the perfect jewels finish off the red carpet moment.

Out of all the stars you’ve worked with, which are your favourites?

Michelle Obama, Helen Mirren, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts - the list is endless!

D’Orazio & Associates has dressed Jennifer Lopez many times in the star’s career. Most recently, she wore Butani jewels for her red-carpet moment at the 2017 Grammy Awards.  

Michelle Obama is one of your highest-profile celebrities. What is it like working with someone who has such a strong sense of style?

Michelle knows what works for her and can easily edit jewellery down to a winning look. It’s always nice to work with someone who is decisive. 

How important is a celebrity to the marketing mix of your clients?

I have watched what impacts the sales and marketing for the brands we represent change over the past 15 years. You used to be able to track the sales of a particular product after it was featured in a magazine, but it has shifted to celebrity. We’ve had instances where a celebrity has worn something one night and, by the morning, the piece is sold. Strategically speaking, celebrity is international unlike the regional issues that used to accompany magazines and print. A celebrity placement publicises a brand on a global scale.

Red-carpet favourite Kate Beckinsale at the 2016 Critics Choice Awards dressed in dramatic diamond earrings by one of D’Orazio’s fine jewellery clients, Butani. 

How does a fine jewellery brand get their jewels onto the red carpet?

When a brand is ready. With its production in order, samples available, a clear and unique brand identity and a public relations budget, you are ready to hire a PR company that can facilitate celebrity red carpet placements.

How does D’Orazio secure so many celebrity red carpet placements?

The D’Orazio team has over 50 years of combined PR experience. It is through this experience and the relationships that have been nurtured over time that we are able to secure placements on behalf of our clients. Stylists know that we offer the most diverse selection of jewels and that we will go above and beyond to get them what they are looking for, no matter how obscure.

Even niche brands like Lydia Courteille of Paris can have superstar success if the right PR strategy is in place. Here, Madonna wears handfuls of Lydia’s rings at the Billboard Awards 2016.

What kind of relationship do you have with the brands you work with?  

The brands we work with are like family. We work very hard to become an integral part of the success of a brand. We see the best results when there is an open dialogue - it’s very much a collaborative process.  

Your clients include global brands. How does having a dedicated PR in the US benefit them?

Celebrity is international. Having PR in the US secures celebrity placement with international resonance. Additionally, many international publications shoot in Los Angeles, and having product available here allows for placements they wouldn’t otherwise receive.

With an eye for what to watch for next, D’Orazio spots up-and-coming stars like Auli’i Cravalho, the voice of Disney’s Moana, here wearing Maxior jewels on the 2017 Oscars red carpet. 

How has digital media changed the way you work?   

In the past, we would loan the product, an image would surface the evening of the event and the next day we could issue a release in time to make the deadline of a print publication. Now, information is immediate. We have to be on the lookout for images constantly. Red carpet shots are posted online straight away, and it is our responsibility to distribute placements to our network of digital media publications as soon as we see them. 

What are the essential qualities of a 21st-century PR company?

Agility. In this new era of PR, information is instantaneous and you have to be on all the time, whether it is facilitating requests on the go, sending celebrity and product images, or issuing press releases. You must be willing to adapt. A good example of this is how important social media has become - a 21st-century PR company has to understand the social media sphere intimately, and how best to utilise it for client brand awareness.

Katy Perry, one of D’Orazio’s regular red-carpet placements, wears Maxior jewels at the Capitol Records 75th Anniversary Gala in November 2016.

What difference can a PR firm like D’Orazio make to a jewellery or watch brand? 

A good PR company can help a brand attain worldwide recognition. This has a direct impact on sales and market share, and can help a brand truly stand apart from its competitors. 

What do you offer that differentiates D’Orazio from other PR agencies?

One of the biggest things is our focus on fine jewellery.  I am a certified gemologist, I worked as a diamond dealer before moving into PR, and my fine jewellery director has over 13 years’ experience in jewellery sales. We focus on the jewellery with an understanding of how it is made and its value. It is from there that we can offer informed collections to the celebrity stylists and editors we work with.

Ginnina D’Orazio, founder and president of D’Orazio & Associates, used to be a diamond dealer and is a gemologist, making her perfectly placed to understand the importance of good PR for the jewellery industry.

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