What’s The Deal With Celebrity Brand Ambassadors? Are They Really A Good Fit For Watch Brands? (Video)
Though this subject has already been commented on fairly extensively by GaryG in Celebrity Ambassadors: Good Marketing Or Terrible Waste?, Watches TV’s Marc-André Deschoux shares his own thoughts on brand ambassadors, starting with the Tudor/David Beckham association (which I contemplated in Tudor Announces David Beckham As Brand Ambassador: Another Instance Of Sharing With Breitling?).
Deschoux believes that Tudor is a brand oozing with great design, vintage inspiration, good quality, and a great pricing structure. But he personally felt that the association with Beckham was counterproductive and the announcement pushed him to not make a Tudor purchase he was leaning toward. Maybe he was right, too, as Beckham showed up to Wimbledon wearing a Rolex chronograph instead of a model by his partner watch brand (see What The Spot?! What Watch Was David Beckham Wearing At Wimbledon?).
HYT, on the other hand, made a relatively good catch with Antoine Griezmann in Deschoux’s opinion. This is a young and talented sportsman playing for Atlético Madrid, who was actually already wearing an HYT watch. Though Deschoux does express some doubt over this relationship because Griezmann is a soccer player and may not wear the watch while playing.
Deschoux cites long-term commitment (or lack thereof) between brands and celebrities being an all-important element, pointing toward Omega as being exemplary in that respect – so exemplary that that brand’s ambassadors just feel legitimate.
But this positive example also does beg the question: what kind of marketing impact is left if the brand ambassador is constantly jumping brands?
Deschoux – and this is also my opinion – also finds Richard Mille’s ambassadors the most natural: these are sportspeople actually wearing the brand’s watches as they do their extreme sports. For two great examples see Richard Mille RM 27-02 For Rafael Nadal: The Quintessential Sports Tourbillon and Olympic Gold Medalist And Richard Mille Ambassador Wayde Van Niekerk Talks Watches And Competition.
“The real star is the watch itself,” says Deschoux.
Two well thought-out comments I found on the Watches TV video on YouTube bring up interesting counterpoints.
G1234X writes, “Brand ambassadors help raise awareness to general public. Maybe some care about horology and history of design, maybe some don’t, maybe some will have their curiosities awakened. If a purist likes a watch for what it is, an ambassador shouldn’t affect a purchase decision. In this day and age, watches will disappear if they don’t engage with younger generations. Millennials will grow up disregarding anything other than a smart watch if not for brand ambassadors. Do end games justify the means? Not always, but an important chunk of ‘education’ happens through online/visual media these days. Awareness for watches among the general public is important.”
And flyingphoenix113 comments, “As someone who did marketing and strategy consulting in the automobile industry, this is an issue that both the high-end sports car and horology markets face. Millennials, as a whole, do not have much appreciation for simplicity or history. This is why the ‘enthusiast’ segment of the automobile industry and manual transmissions are dying and otherwise brilliant driver cars like the Alfa Romeo 4C just aren’t selling. Thus, brand ambassadors have become a very important part of marketing campaigns. If you can’t make the consumer care about the product in a mechanical sense, or even an aesthetic sense, make them care about it in a fashion sense and appeal to their emotions. If the product is seen as being ‘avant-garde,’ ‘trendy,’ or ‘in fashion,’ historically, it could be a dog turd and people would still buy it. Thus, even for companies like Mercedes AMG and Porsche, brand ambassadors (such as Maria Sharapova, Lincoln Park, etc.) have become an unfortunate reality. It’s also become heavily one-sided in favor of the ambassador. Before, it was an organic process. Sinatra once bought a Lamborghini Miura. Ferrucio Lamborghini would personally show his appreciation to Mr. Sinatra and Frank Sinatra would effectively act as free advertising for a product that Sinatra enjoyed (and would have bought otherwise, regardless of the partnership). Now, modern artists expect a heavy commission (if not a free product outright) for their endorsement of the brand. Whether or not brand ambassadors are effective is another question entirely, but as sales for luxury goods and cottage industries dwindle, targeted marketing and effective advertisement is going to play an important part in determining their future (or lack thereof).”
You may also enjoy:
HYT Watches’ Vincent Perriard Talks About New ‘Brand Friend’: Guns ҆N’ Roses’ Axl Rose
Richard Mille RM 27-02 For Rafael Nadal: The Quintessential Sports Tourbillon
Olympic Gold Medalist And Richard Mille Ambassador Wayde Van Niekerk Talks Watches And Competition
Also published on Medium.