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Former global marketing, communications and events director for Valeo, co-founder of Red Carpet Paris, the Chief Marketing Officer for Off Lease Only, the largest used car dealership in the U.S., and so much more, Claire Vidal is in a league of her own when it comes to creating strategies that place brands ahead of competitors.
Vidal is full of brilliant ideas, and she knows exactly how to bring them into reality in an innovative way that helps the brands she works with stand out. Over the years she has not only helped bring brands such as Valeo, EBay Motors and Parrot Inc., into the spotlight, but she has also achieved unparalleled success with several powerful start-ups of her own, such as Red Carpet Paris, and the recently founded French sparkling wine brand, Exigeante.
As a director of communications and marketing Vidal seeks to identify the right market trends before anyone else so a brand can gain a competitive advantage and position itself as an innovator, not just a follower.
She says, “I get excited about bringing new brands to the market and creating the right product and market fit. Identifying where there is a gap in the market and creating a product or service that will delight customers. The excitement of launching a new project explains why I have mostly worked with innovative companies or launched my own startups.”
Last month Kimoby, formerly known as ACE Marktplace, earned the Porsche Data Cup Award for an innovative platform that was instigated by Vidal’s go-to-market strategy work with the company. Her market strategy, which assessed the current platform that helped car dealers locate cars on the lot as well as loaners used by customers using data intensive OBD II (On-Board Diagnostic II) systems, inspired the company to begin transitioning to OTA (Over the Air) technologies.
Allowing dealerships to have a better sense of the status of their own fleet while ensuring cars are available when customers need them, this transition ultimately helped the company relaunch the platform in a way that was not only more effective for the customer and the dealer, but it led Kimoby to win the first ever Porsche Data Cup Award.
“I specialize in ‘go-to-market’ strategy, which is a field of marketing that combines branding, marketing and business strategy. Because of my MBA background and my experience as a business owner myself, I like to embrace a 360° strategy that will not only look at the brand and the promotional tactics to launch a new business, but also identifies the distribution and sales model,” explains Claire Vidal.
In 2010, shortly after graduating from INSEAD’s Executive MBA program, ranked earlier this year by Financial Times as the #1 international MBA program, Vidal started Red Carpet Paris, a line of luxury shoe insoles that completely transformed the way customers viewed the concept of insoles. After doing extensive research and product testing, Vidal created an insole that women could be proud to place inside their shoes, and it took off like wildfire.
“What really made it a success was the marketing approach I took in positioning the product as a luxury item in a world where insoles were considered as a commodity,” recalls Vidal. “By combining technical excellence with creative branding Red Carpet became an instant hit in the most prestigious stores in the world.”
In 2011 she partnered with Renault during the prestigious Cannes Film Festival to use their cars to deliver the Red Carpet Insoles to help celebrities and others ‘climb the stairs’ of the Palais des Festival of Cannes. A huge success, the event led Vidal to be featured on the Good Morning Business Show on BFM Business radio & TV.
The word was out, Red Carpet Paris was the way to go for comfort and class. In the years following she went from raising funds from private investors to being awarded with funding from renowned investment organizations, such as Femmes Business Angels, Réseau Entreprendre, Paris Essec Business Angels, Keiretsu Forum and more. Red Carpet Paris quickly made its way beyond the European market, gaining distribution in Dubai, Beijing and the United States.
What makes Calire Vidal so unique is her ability to see what is needed in the market and then devise a way to deliver it in a way that makes customers want to buy it, not an easy task considering how many products are flooding our screens and shop windows on a daily basis.
“Claire moves quickly, seizing opportunities, solving problems, pushing boundaries. She knows how to leverage her strategy and marketing skills to turn her creative vision into reality,” says Erin Gainer, angel investor and member of the board for Red Carpet Paris.
“Claire is a people person, she’s good at making connections and bringing out the best in everyone she works with. She founded her company Red Carpet based on her unique market insight about the unmet need for luxury insoles designed specifically for high heels. She developed and branded her own proprietary products and secured the product supply chain.”
Born in Toulouse, France Vidal spent her youth moving every three to four years due to her father’s job as a top chief executive in the French Ministry of Education. Living in various cities within France in her youth, as well as abroad, endowed Vidal with incredible adaptability and taught her how to create new relationships across cultures. Where a more introverted child may have struggled, Vidal thrived in the situation. Developing her independence, gaining an understanding of different communication styles, while also sparking her love for travel, these early experiences have all leant themselves in making her the woman she is today.
Prior to starting Red Carpet Paris, Vidal spent a decade working for French global automotive supplier Valeo where her contributions were key in transforming the overall image of the company. Initially hired as the company’s first ever external communications coordinator, Vidal quickly created a functional network that supported the high-tech image of the company.
Not only did she restructure how the company’s trade shows and events were organized which established the brand’s communications sector as a strategic and integral function within the organization, but she also transformed the way the public and those in house looked at automotive parts by bridging technology with art.
One of the qualities that has really set Vidal apart over the course of her career thus far is her ability to think creatively and come up with ideas that help brands innovate and transform the way they are thought of by the public. While at Valeo Vidal came up with the brilliant idea of fusing art and technology through the “Haute Couture, Haute Technology'' calendar and event series, which was unveiled at prestigious places throughout Paris, including the Caroussel du Louvre.
Not long into her work at Valeo and still in her 20s, Vidal was promoted to global marketing, communications and events director where she continued to implement changes in the brand’s look that are still visible today. Vidal’s work at Valeo really paved the way for her to become the multifaceted entrepreneur that she is today.
“At Valeo I was operating with a great level of autonomy, almost as an ‘intrapreneur.’ I was given full trust from the leadership to create communication programs and I was encouraged to think out of the box,” says Vidal. “I think Valeo gave me the confidence to then fly on my own with Red Carpet and launch a new product on the market, because I had learned enough about structure and processes to bring that to my new entrepreneurial journey.”
Since leaving Valeo Vidal has been a key player in both launching innovative brands, such as Parrot Inc., and helping others, such as EBay Motors, restructure to be more competitive in the modern age. Vidal was tapped to join the Parrot team back in 2016. They were looking for a French marketing disruptor who was capable of launching a new business in record time. The business– we+ar TRBL, the first ever t-shirt with an interactive e-paper screen on a garment. Consumers could literally program their t-shirt to say whatever they wanted.
Vidal recalls, “We launched we+ar TRBL using gorilla marketing activities at the ComplexCon show in California, and also partnered with DJs as famous as DeadMau5. These tactics really positioned the brand as a disruptor targeting people who had something to share with the world, and they could now do it instantly on their Tshirt without waiting for someone to print it for them.”
With Vidal on board, the we+ar TRBL brand, like all of the projects she’s worked on so far, became an instant success.
When it comes to choosing companies to work with, Vidal says, “I mostly go with my gut and whether the company has the right mindset to achieve results. In particular, the ability to embrace change and do things differently.You can’t expect new results by playing by the old rules of marketing.”
In 2020 Vidal founded the Exigeante French sparkling wine brand, which was sparked by a combination of her love for champagne and bringing women together. As a successful entrepreneur, she has a lot to share with other powerful women, something she’s been doing through Exigeante, which means demanding in French, and the Healing Power of Champagne events.
“To me Exigeante is a celebration of women who live their lives unapologetically, are authentically themselves and who are carving their own path while having fun along the way... one glass of bubbly at a time,” Vidal explains.
“Too often I feel that as women we are taught to fit in, be quiet and not be ‘too much.’ That’s why I created my brand of sparkling wine for unapologetic women…. I believe we have to embrace the ambition we have in our hearts and in our guts, and not apologize for being strong women.”
With ambition and creativity driving her success, there’s no doubt that Vidal will continue to come up with many exciting new business ventures as time goes on. She is currently planning to establish the Exigeante brand in Florida, while also working as the chief marketing officer for Off Lease, where she is helping to transform the company on multiple levels. Vidal’s track record has made her a go-to marketing and communications consultant for numerous brands, and she has many exciting projects coming up in the U.S. in the next couple of years.
“I am meant to drive creative projects, as well as launch new products or businesses, and assist other businesses in doing so. I need to feel this rush of excitement for my creativity to be ignited and for ideas to start flowing,” says Vidal. “Brands need to think about their customer experience in a holistic way, and look at what other industries are doing. Gone are the days where you only compete with players in your industry, you compete with all the brands who become trend setters in their fields, because they set the bar where customers' expectations are.”
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
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