Lydia Fenet, Managing Director at Christie’s, founder and global head of Christie’s Strategic Partnerships
WE ARE FACING A PERIOD OF RADICAL TRANSFORMATION IN THE WAYS IN WHICH WE CONDUCT BUSINESS DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. IN THE ART WORLD, GALLERIES, ART FAIRS AND AUCTION HOUSES ARE CREATING AND FURTHER DEVELOPING SOPHISTICATED VIRTUAL EXHIBITIONS, SALES AND VIEWING ROOMS IN AN EFFORT TO CONTINUE TO MARKET AND SELL ARTWORK. IN 2008, WHEN FACED WITH A GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS, LYDIA FENET, MANAGING DIRECTOR AT CHRISTIE’S BROUGHT THE CONCEPT OF STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS TO THE AUCTION WORLD IN A THEN TRULY RADICAL AND INNOVATIVE WAY TO CONTINUE CORPORATE SUPPORT OF AUCTIONS.
A strategic partnership is a an agreed-upon collaboration between businesses with common missions. Although partnerships can take on a number of objectives and levels of formality depending upon the nature of the agreement, the overall goal of strategic partnerships is to share resources in a way that promotes growth for all partners. This type of marketing has long been in place in much of the corporate world in which businesses with mutual interests agree to collaborate to share their specific areas of concentration to the advancement of all of the partners.
WITH A TEAM IN NEW YORK, LONDON, AND HONG KONG, CHRISTIE’S STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS WORKS WITH SELECT BRANDS TO CREATE CUSTOMIZED REGIONAL AND GLOBAL PROGRAMS FEATURING ELEGANT EVENTS, BESPOKE CONTENT AND EXCLUSIVE DIGITAL EXPERIENCES. EACH PROGRAM IS UNIQUE AND PROVIDES THE PARTNER WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO ENGAGE THEIR AUDIENCE AND ELEVATE THEIR BRAND BY ALIGNING WITH CHRISTIE’S, THE WORLD’S LEADING ART BUSINESS AND THE ULTIMATE ICONIC LUXURY BRAND.
THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME LYDIA FENET BACK TO TELL US HOW IT ALL CAME ABOUT.
LYDIA, YOU VIRTUALLY TRANSFORMED THE BUSINESS MODEL AT CHRISTIE’S BY BRINGING IN OUTSIDE REVENUE TO SUPPORT THE SPECIAL EVENTS DEPARTMENT.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE INNOVATIVE PLAN TO INTRODUCE PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN OTHER LUXURY BRANDS AND CHRISTIE’S? PLEASE TELL US ABOUT ITS INCEPTION AND DEVELOPMENT.
I started the Strategic Partnerships division at Christie’s after the crash in 2008. I was working in the Events and realized that, once again, I was going to lose members of my team because we were supposed to be spending money at a time when the company was really cutting back. I wrote a business plan for Strategic Partnerships proposing a new department that offset the costs of events by getting other companies to pay for our events. Now sponsorships are everywhere, but ten years ago companies were just starting to explore partnerships as a way to cross-promote to new audiences. Strategic Partnerships at Christie’s looks very different than it did ten years ago – we evolve and innovate to keep up with the constantly evolving digital landscape.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR CLIENTS THAT CHRISTIE’S PARTNERS WITH IN THE STRATEGIC GLOBAL PARTNERSHIPS DIVISION?
We partner with every luxury brand imaginable – Mandarin Oriental, VistaJet, Gucci, Bugatti.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHT EVENTS AND PARTNERSHIP CAMPAIGNS THAT WERE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FOR THE BRANDS AND WHY?
To this day, my favorite partnerships were the ones we did around The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor. We partnered with everyone from Gazprom in Russia to Wells Fargo in Los Angeles. Each partnership brought exposure to a new group of clients and new ways to broaden the reach of the sale. A couple of years ago, we had a fantastic collaboration with VistaJet during The Collection of Peggy & David Rockefeller. They have a fabulous marketing team that worked with our team to create a customized series of offerings giving clients the opportunity fly privately in order to visit the exhibition around the world, and attend the sale in New York.
DO YOU APPROACH THEM OR THEY YOU OR BOTH?
Both. There are many times when we have an exciting sale that we think would benefit from cross-promotion with a brand. In that instance we create a target list and reach out. We also field a ton of requests from different companies looking to partner with the Christie’s brand.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD FIT FOR A BRAND TO PARTNER WITH CHRISTIE’S?
We are always looking for brands that have a strong corporate identity but also looking to try new, innovative campaigns that will attract new clients and resonate with existing clients. My favorite brand collaboration is with a brand that might seem unexpected, but with great storytelling and good marketing helps make people want to come in and see a collection or click through on Instagram to learn more about the collaboration.
YOU HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED BY OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, JENNIFER BROWN, EXPERT AND LEADING VOICE ON THE SUBJECT OF INCLUSIVITY IN THE WORKPLACE, AS A RAINMAKER. WHAT GAVE YOU THE COURAGE, IN AN ESSENTIALLY MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY, TO BREAK THE GLASS CEILING?
One of my greatest blessings in life is the unconditional love I have received from my parents. I think the lessons that they taught me as a child about going after what I want in life have enabled me to push fear aside in pursuit of my goals. That combined with a strong inner drive makes me pretty fearless about trying new things.
DON’T MISS LYDIA’S DAILY INSTAGRAM IG LIVE INTERVIEWS THAT SHE HAS INNOVATED DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, 6PM EASTERN NIGHTLY.
NOT ONE TO PASSIVELY SIT STILL, THE AUTHOR OF THE MOST POWERFUL WOMAN IN THE ROOM IS YOU, LYDIA FENET HAS CREATED A VERY POPULAR SERIES OF IG LIVE CHATS WITH OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE MOVERS AND SHAKERS WITH VERY DIVERSE BUSINESSES. DO LISTEN AND, IF YOU CAN, PLEASE SUPPORT LYDIA’S FAVORITE CHARITY, www/river.fund WITH A DONATION. THANK YOU!
HERE ARE JUST A FEW:
DANA PERINO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR
JULIA TAYLOR, FOUNDER OF EVERLYWELL, AT-HOME LAB TESTS
SAMANTHA BARRY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, GLAMOUR MAGAZINE
CAROLINE FAIRCHILD, EDITOR AT LARGE, LINKED IN
LAUREN SMITH BRODY, FOUNDER, THE FIFTH TRIMESTER