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The World’s Richest Family Is About to Remake the Olympics. Here’s How

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses how the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, owned by the Arnault family, is heavily involved in sponsoring and shaping the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. It explores the convergence of luxury brands and the Olympics, LVMH's strategies and motivations, as well as the potential impact on the city of Paris.

🙋 Q&A

[01] LVMH's Involvement in the 2024 Olympics

1. What are some of the ways LVMH is involved in the 2024 Paris Olympics?

  • LVMH is a major sponsor of the 2024 Paris Olympics, contributing around $160 million to the organizers' budget
  • LVMH is lending in-house talent to "vivify" the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including:
    • Carine Roitfeld, a former Vogue France editor, is designing tuxedos for the opening ceremony
    • LVMH-owned jeweler Chaumet is designing the Olympic medals, each containing a lug of iron extracted from the Eiffel Tower
    • LVMH's luxury brand Louis Vuitton is manufacturing the trunks to house the tournament's medals
    • LVMH's Berluti brand is providing the tuxedos for the French Olympic team
    • Employees from LVMH's Sephora cosmetics retailer will carry the Olympic torch

2. What are LVMH's motivations for getting involved in the Olympics?

  • LVMH sees parallels between the values of elite Olympic competitors (attention to detail, pursuit of excellence) and the expertise of the craftspeople who work for LVMH's luxury brands
  • LVMH wants to associate its brands with the positive, forward-looking spirit of the Olympics, in contrast to the "French mindset of wanting to look at everything that could go wrong"
  • LVMH's involvement is part of a broader strategy to diversify the company into categories where "experiences matter", such as hospitality, restaurants, art, culture, and now sports

3. How does LVMH's involvement in the Olympics fit into the Arnault family's legacy and ambitions?

  • The Arnault family, who control LVMH, are seen as a sort of "royal family" in France, with Bernard Arnault as a "de facto head of state"
  • LVMH's sponsorship of the Olympics may be part of Bernard Arnault's efforts to cement his legacy and the company's prominence in French culture, similar to his endowment of the Fondation Louis Vuitton art museum
  • There is a sense that the Arnaults want LVMH's achievements, rather than just the family itself, to be "invaluable and everlasting"

[02] Tensions Between Luxury and the Olympics

1. What are some of the tensions between LVMH's luxury brands and the egalitarian spirit of the Olympics?

  • The Olympics prides itself on being open to everyone, while LVMH's luxury goods are designed for and marketed to an elite, exclusive clientele
  • Some Parisians are critical of LVMH's heavy corporate presence in the city and feel the Olympics will make the city even more difficult to live in for ordinary residents

2. How does LVMH try to navigate these tensions?

  • LVMH argues that not everyone can be an Olympic athlete, just as not everyone can afford their luxury goods, but many people can still dream of these achievements
  • LVMH emphasizes that it is trying to bring its "expertise and creativity" to the Olympics, rather than just making the event "luxurious or elegant"
  • LVMH portrays its involvement as helping to ensure the Games "take place in the best possible conditions, with great pride and joy"

3. What are some potential risks or downsides of LVMH's high-profile involvement in the Olympics?

  • There are concerns that LVMH's luxury brands could become overexposed or lose their exclusivity by being so prominently featured at the Olympics
  • Some analysts don't expect LVMH to see a major boost in sales from the Olympics, despite the company's massive investment

Overall, the article explores the complex and sometimes uneasy relationship between the world of luxury goods and the egalitarian ideals of the Olympic Games, as embodied by LVMH's prominent role in sponsoring and shaping the 2024 Paris Olympics.

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