A Luxury Walk? Ask Louis Vuitton

Offers Audio Guides to Chinese Cities in Time for Olympics

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Louis Vuitton isn't an Olympic sponsor, but that hasn't stopped it from planning an unusual tie-in for this summer's games.
Louis Vuitton - Joan Chen

Louis Vuitton - Qi

Louis Vuitton - Li

Joan Chen (top) guides listeners through Shanghai, Shu Qi (middle) tours Hong Kong and Gong Li (bottom) narrates the Beijing tour.
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The luxury-goods purveyor is introducing branded audio guides of Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong to celebrate the games' host country. It is partnering with Soundwalk, a company specializing in audio guides, to produce three tours touted as the company's first digital product, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Louis Vuitton City Guides, a series of high-end travel tomes.

'A new way of traveling'
"[It] is a new concept in urban tourism, and we really want to offer a new way of traveling to our customers," a Louis Vuitton spokesman said. "With China hosting the Olympic Games in 2008, it was natural for Louis Vuitton ... to open its Louis Vuitton Soundwalk series with a trilogy of Chinese cities."

Each of the guides is narrated by a well-known Chinese actress. Gong Li narrates the Beijing tour, Shu Qi tours Hong Kong, and Joan Chen guides listeners through Shanghai. The tours explore the cities' must-see places, but they are far from a traditional tourist's guide, with each containing a story line that blends fact and fiction.

"The hourlong tour, whose narration is perfectly synchronized with the itinerary, is punctuated by the characteristic sounds of the city and accompanied by music that was specially composed for the project," the spokesman said.

Beginning June 16, the tours will be available as downloadable MP3 files (via louisvuittonsoundwalk.com). They will be sold exclusively online for $17 each, and are available in English, French, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin. The company said that promotion of the guides will be limited, and there is not a formal partnership with the Olympic Games. Ogilvy Paris is Louis Vuitton's creative agency.

Asia on upswing
The guides will also help the brand connect with the increasingly important Asian market. In 2007, sales in Asia, excluding Japan, accounted for 19% of overall sales at LVMH, Louis Vuitton's parent company, up from 15% five years ago. By comparison, Europe accounted for 37% of sales and the U.S. was responsible for 25% of sales in 2007.

In March, Louis Vuitton's second-largest store opened in Hong Kong, 16 years after the company's first Chinese store opened in Beijing. The company now operates 21 stores in mainland China and six in Hong Kong. Five additional stores are slated to open in the region before the end of the year.

The company will continue playing up its travel connections, with the introduction of Louis Vuitton City Guide's 10th anniversary edition in October. The guides will feature an updated design and new sections, along with first-time profiles of cities such as Tokyo and Miami.
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