Drawing attention, and at the same time, not being a little much. Appear as innovators, still not forgetting the old masters. Caught in the grip of long-established rules, the industry often needs to resort to unobvious advertising decisions. And sometimes, they are much more effective than classical ones.
Watch industry’s renowned conservatism has a certain influence on each individual business process. Let it be design, a new technology, or a marketing strategy - as if by consensus, eminent brands are trying not to risk, banking again and again on inheritance, heirloom, and other words ubiquitous in catalogs and press releases. On the one hand, this tactic has been bearing fruit since the end of the 1980s, on the other - just try to recall at least a few dizzying reshuffles in the unofficial table of ranks, when this or that brand of the middling sort would suddenly pull into the lead? Traditional advertising and its effectiveness would make a topic of a long debate, but in any case, it is practiced by everyone, which means it cannot a priori be used to outthink the established status quo. It is much more interesting to do a follow-up on how various companies exercise their ingenuity, as they turn seemingly extraneous things into promotion devices.
Privilege of a select few
Of course, in classical advertising, too, there are champions. One of gold standards is considered, deservedly, the Patek Philippe 20-year-old ad campaign and its slogan: “You never really own a Patek Philippe watch. You just save it for the next generation.” Accenting the well-known fact that brand products tend not to outlive their value over time - in other words, feel confident in the secondary market - and adding family theme, the authors not only got a win-win mix at the output but expressed the aspirations of the whole industry. Every Swiss citizen engaged in watch production would be happy to place his/her logo under these idyllic photos of fathers and sons or mothers and daughters.
Sometimes, however, significant progress can be achieved without repeating truisms or relying on the achievements well known to all. An excellent example is the advertising of the Portofino collection from IWC. A few years ago, George Kern, the then head of the brand, shared some internal workings as he spoke to his colleagues at a seminar, and accidentally caused a mini-scandal. Anyway, the pragmatic side of the issue is usually kept quiet. Kern began with the allegations that the luxury industry sells not so much the goods but their allusions, the right to get a sense of something lofty, which means that the historical connection of a model with the world of aviation or conquering the pole is no less important to the owner than the quality of the finish and accuracy. But what if the line does not bear such allusions but possesses only a sonorous name of the town at the picturesque Italian coast? The answer is obvious - the mythology needs to be created from scratch! Invite a team of first-rate stars from the worlds of cinema and sports in the range from Cate Blanchett and Kevin Spacey to Zinedine Zidane, call upon the world-renowned photographer Peter Lindbergh - who had got, in a twist of fate, to put his hand to the Patek Philippe ad campaign mentioned above - and depict our heroes in the images of the 1950s’ glamour. Make the very shooting a noisy party, do not forget paparazzi, and upon receiving a grandiose material at the exit, organize a series of exhibitions in the world’s largest capitals. Celebrate each opening with a magnificent gala party with the participation of all the same actors and athletes, causing a stir in the press again and again. To measure the impact: the entire collection was sold out barely having time to debut, it has developed forever a persistent and extremely romantic image of a nostalgic greeting to the European chic of the fifties. No other advertising was required.
Disturbers of the peace
There are also found in the industry the examples of desperate courage on the brink of a foul. In 2010, unknown criminals attacked the then head of the Formula One Bernie Ecclestone and messed up his face while stealing all valuables, Hublot watch among them. The Ambassador, who was not bewildered, sent his selfie to brand’s chief executive, Jean-Claude Biver, and they decided to turn a mugging into a lucky strike. After a couple of weeks, a picture of the racing tycoon with severe bruises adorned the banners all over the world. The slogan immediately sank deep into memory: ‘See what people will do for a Hublot?’
Speaking of strange and even dangerous campaigns to create brand’s image, one could not fail to mention Ivan Arpa and his Artya watch. His whole career is built on the contrast with the competitors’ values. Ancient crafts, you say? Don’t you want a timepiece with fossilized dinosaur excrement? Maybe with real bullets, shredded banknotes, or the blood of the author himself? There is also a reverse side to this tactic - no traditionalist would ever approach Artya within firing range, but it seems they are not so much expected there. But for the fans of everything off the beaten track, a commercial in the Frankenstein style would be shot to represent the brand’s employee wearing all conceivable protection, holding a new model in his outstretched hand, and catching with that... a real lightning discharged by a Tesla coil! Well, there’s your Swiss conservatism.