On 16 February 2011 the designer brand Cassina organised an event to destroy around 75 pieces of counterfeit Le Corbusier furniture at the Stallaert site in Vilvoorde. FINN was asked to generate media attention for the event. In 1965 Cassina was chosen by Le Corbusier himself to be the only manufacturer with exclusive global manufacturing rights for iconic models such as the LC2 armchair and the LC4 chaise longue.
Cassina, in collaboration with its lawyer Herman Croux (partner with Marx Van Ranst Vermeersch & Partners), wanted to use the event to give out a strong signal to the market that counterfeiting is killing creativity in the design sector.
The greatest challenge was not just generating positive media attention about the action to destroy the counterfeit furniture itself but also to bring the fight against counterfeit goods in general to the public eye.
Counterfeiting is not a new topic. In order to maximise press attention for the event FINN decided to focus press communications on a new trend: the trade in counterfeit goods, and consequently the fight against counterfeit goods, which is shifting more and more to the internet. This angle positioned the event to destroy the counterfeits as part of a broader phenomenon. FINN estimated that this would increase journalists’ interest in the fight against counterfeiting.
FINN invited over 1,000 Dutch and French-speaking journalists to the event and also personally invited a selection of media by telephone: including weekly publications (such as Knack, Trends/Tendances, Le Vif), the audiovisual press (Kanaal Z, VRT news VTM news, RING tv) and regional newspapers’ editorial staff (Het Laatste Nieuws, Het Nieuwsblad, etc).
Following the press conference a press release (‘Brand Cassina destroys counterfeit Le Corbusier Furniture’) was sent to 1,000 Dutch and French-speaking journalists. During the event to destroy the counterfeit furniture campaign photographs were taken by a professional press photographer and subsequently made available to the journalists.
Results: the media
Cassina’s action to destroy the counterfeit furniture was a huge success in the media. The Peeters & Pichal current affairs programme on Radio 1 devoted almost 20 minutes to the subject and organised its own action to destroy a counterfeit Le Corbusier in the VRT building following the Cassina action. In turn this act was reported in a playful manner by other media (‘Sven Pichal caught in the act of vandalism’ on clint.be). Other audiovisual media broadcast extensive features on Cassina: these included Radio 1 news, the RTBF news programme, the VRT news programme (in all its broadcasts from 1 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.), Radio 2 and fm Brussel.
Cassina also featured in all the main national and regional newspapers as well as in their online editions: De Tijd, De Standaard, Het Laatste Nieuws, Het Nieuwsblad, Gazet van Antwerpen, Het Belang van Limburg, Le Soir, La Libre Belgique and La Dernière Heure. In addition the majority of media outlets published one or several photographs taken by the on-site photographer.
Results: the message
The decision to associate the press release with counterfeiting shifting to the web appeared to be a success, given headlines such as ‘Counterfeit designs flourish via web shops’ (De Standaard) and ‘Manufacturer of genuine luxury chairs fights against illegal internet sales’ (Het Nieuwsblad). Most publications focused primarily on the action to destroy the counterfeit furniture however the broader trend in counterfeit goods was also referred to in quotes from Alessandro Buffoni (Cassina) and Herman Croux (Cassina’s lawyer).