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The Met Gala is the Biggest Night in Marketing

Tyra Douyon - May 8, 2024

Photo: Image credit: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

The First Monday in May is for Marketers

On the evening of the first Monday in May, everyone from the country’s most famous celebrities and influencers to paparazzi and politicians can be found in one place — The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Here, the largest art museum in the Americas hosts The Met Gala®, its annual star-studded event.

Marketers can learn valuable lessons from this iconic event. The Met Gala® exemplifies the power of strategic branding, storytelling, and creative marketing — essential elements in crafting successful marketing campaigns.

This event can be fun to watch, but it’s an excellent opportunity for marketers to learn how the experts incorporate out-of-the-box ideas to make connections, humanize their brand, and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The Met Gala Entry Hall ©Corey Tenold

Photo: Corey Tenold

What is the Significance of The Met Gala®?

It’s almost impossible to miss the event coverage, even if you want to avoid it. Plastered on digital and print front pages and going viral on social media are the annual displays of opulence, wealth, and creativity. Guests become walking billboards for the industry’s top clothing designers, who, with their over-the-top styling renditions of the theme, can secure their place as an OG or must-watch luxury designer.

Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t just an excuse for celebrities to wear extravagant outfits and get photographed. This fashion-first celebration provides the Costume Institute with “its primary source of funding for annual exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, operations, and capital improvements.”

This year’s theme—“Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion”—celebrated the Costume Institute’s new exhibition, featuring approximately 250 items drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, some rarely seen in public before and displayed in new ways “via video animation, light projection, AI, CGI, and other forms of sensory stimulation.”

Making a Statement at The Met

One of the most important aspects of the event is the coveted dress code theme of the evening. Guests are encouraged to wear their best renditions and be as creative as possible. The 2024 Met Gala dress code is “The Garden of Time.” It takes inspiration from a 1962 short story by J.G. Ballard, ironically written about a group of aristocrats overrun by “an immense rabble.”

Over the years, we’ve seen an appreciative focus on Blake Lively, who channeled the Statue of Liberty in 2022 with the In American: Anthology on Fashion theme.

Jared Leto received considerable applause from fashion critics and social media scrollers in 2019 when he arrived holding his own mannequin head for the theme Camp: Notes on Fashion.

©Mike Coppola//Getty Images .jpeg

Photo: Mike Coppola//Getty Images

Why is a fashion fundraiser the biggest night in marketing?

However, there has been controversy from other guests in years past who decided this was the right place to make the event about more than fashion.

Harsh criticism was on the agenda for Kim Kardashian wearing Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress from 1962. She received intense backlash for reportedly damaging it to only wear it for a few minutes on the red carpet before changing into a replica dress when she went inside the museum. This decision may have hurt a fashion artifact, but it did boost the visibility of her personal brand.

In comparison, Billie Eilish packed a positive punch in headlines when it was known that she had agreed to wear Oscar de la Renta to the 2021 Met Gala only if the brand promised to go fur-free! This was a powerful move aimed at saving animals and helping the environment.

The Met ©The Met

Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art //The Met

Both of these moments and many more did cause quite a stir, but is there a line when trying to make headlines?

Marketers use big moments to grow a brand’s voice and drive sales, and this is precisely what The Met Gala® does each year to support its own agenda. Embracing unique and thought-provoking themes inspires designers, attendees, and the media to explore new interpretations and push boundaries in fashion and art. The Met Gala® maintains its relevance and allure, attracting global attention and cementing its status as a fashion calendar highlight and the season’s most coveted annual fundraiser.

Marketers should take a note from the Met Gala’s book and use these timeless techniques on branding, partnerships, and behind-the-scenes content to drive engagement and increase leads. Even by leveraging trending topics surrounding the Gala, brands can create authentic connections with consumers and capitalize on the excitement to drive brand awareness and revenue.

Rachel Zoe said, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” You should apply that statement to your business. Marketing, from the logo to the website design or the blogs shared, is how a business says who they are without a press release.

And if that doesn’t convince you, entry to the 2024 invite-only gala is $75,000 per ticket—up $25,000 over last year’s price. Tables start around $350,000, and all proceeds go towards the Costume Institute. As over-the-top as this fundraiser is every year, many people gasp and guffaw good-naturedly for a good cause.


Photo: Kevin Tachman Rihanna opened her performance on top of a dinner table.

At The Met Gala®, every step is a statement in the language of couture, and the only rule is: there are no rules. At Rearview Advertising, we take inspiration from unlikely sources to elevate various companies’ marketing strategies. With over 25 years of experience, we specialize in tailoring every campaign to your unique goals.

Contact us today to learn more about our services. We’re here to help your business grow!

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