The global watch

For some watch firms, one campaign can translate globally, but for others, cultural differences call for variations on a theme.

Timex’s five-year-old strategy is multifaceted, as its many groups of watches target different types of people, said Susie Watson, advertising and public relations director.

“No longer can you target one group with your brand and expect to get any diversity,” she said. There’s very little overlap between their target groups, she noted.

Timex has four campaigns: one for the Expedition outdoorsy watches, one for the Ironman watchesfor sports enthusiasts, one for the women’s fashion watches called True Classics and one for the Turn & Pull analog alarm watches. Coming up is a new campaign for the new Humvee watch (inspired by the Hummer vehicle), which will address a young, alternative male customer.

This year, Watson said, the firm will spend $18 million on advertising.

At Citizen, president Laurence Grunstein said the company continues to use its campaign entitled “Citizen. How the World Tells Time,” which was created five years ago.

Since the campaign began, he claims Citizen’s market share has gone from number two to number one in the over $50 watch category in the U.S.

While the firm is capitalizing on its global-style slogan, Grunstein said it doesn’t lose sight of all the differences in cultures.

I think the world is getting smaller, the Internet is helping that, and in time this diversity in advertising may change,” he said. However, he noted that the firm must still tweak the campaign for the differences among countries.

Citizen will increase its ad budget between 10 and 20 percent this year over last year. Last year it was roughly $10.5 million, Grunstein said.

Over time, the media mix has changed. Fourteen years ago, all advertising was on TV, he said. Now it’s about half TV, half print. Last year, TV advertising was 55 percent with print at 45 percent; this year those percentages will be flip-flopped.

At Tag Heuer, U.S. president Susan Nicholas said the firm has propelled its uniqueness of being a higher-end, branded sports watch.

We came in and took a small functional segment of the watch category — sports watches — and moved them to a prestigious alternative to a dress watch,” she said, comparing the phenomenon to what has happened with sports vehicles becoming a status symbol.

When the firm launched the Kirium watch last year, it commissioned Herb Ritts to do a photo shoot of 13 world-class athletes in the nude to make the tie between sports and watches. Tag Heuer exhibited the photos in art galleries here and in Los Angeles, and now plans to use them in a brochure to reach more consumers in the next few months to promote a new Kirium chronograph watch.

Close to $10 million has been spent on advertising for the firm this year, with the national program comprised of 90 percent print advertising in about 30 publications. The rest is large outdoor advertising such as wall paintings.

At Swatch, vice president of marketing Carlo Giordanetti said it runs the same TV spots in various countries, as the firm seeks “to convey the brand message with a lifestyle message of Swatch.”

The motto, “Time is what you make of it,” is used to trigger an emotional response in all viewers, Giordanetti said.

Giordanetti said that, this summer, Swatch will push its image with the Goodwill Games through TV spots on CNN, CBS and TNT and outdoor billboards.

Watch scene

For Disney, coming up with a new way to market Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and its whole wide world of characters was as simple as a snap.

The Disney Snap Watch, which hit the market in August, marries a plastic case with an innovative metal backing that flips open and closes securely for easy transfer to an array of rubber straps and even Tinkerbell’s wings, Piglet’s striped jersey, Pluto’s dog collar or, for mere mortals, a coat lapel, backpack or sneaker.

We wanted it to be personal, to allow people to express themselves,” said Bob Baldocchi, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Seiko Instruments, which holds the Disney watch license for North America, Europe and parts of Latin America.

Each Disney Snap Watch comes with its own strap for a suggested retail price of $35. Alternate straps retail for $10 each, with a typical assortment of eight coordinating styles for each design. Straps come in both solid colors and patterns, and each features magnet closures.

“Disney is a brand that is able to cater to the youngest of kids to mom,” said Baldocchi. “The first Mickey Mouse watch style made in 1932 has sold millions and millions of units. It has a built-in history and heritage, and that’s what makes this such an interesting project to be working on.”

NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE

From the Bahama prints at Proenza Schouler to the safari-esque silhouettes at Diane von Furstenberg, the look of the tropics has popped up on spring 2005 runways. So it’s an ideal time for the two-year-old company, Caribbean Joe, which has built its look on island living, to launch its 13th product category.

Debuting at November’s accessories market is Caribbean Joe’s first collection of watches, designed and manufactured by licensee Genender Watches.

Watches further the Caribbean Joe lifestyle,” explained Ken Sitomer, a principle partner.

According to Amy Genender, the head of licensing at Genender Watches, the 24 styles will target men and women and reflect both current watch trends and a casual style with a tropical twist. Retail pricing will begin at $40 and go up to $150.

Although the company declined to release specific sales estimates for the watch collection, Genender believes that Caribbean Joe’s past success with licenses will be repeated with the latest line as well. “Nobody ever knows in advance, but we hope to sell lots and lots of watches.”

THE SAFETY DANCE

Shawn Montgomery, a designer at nine-month-old Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Monji, realized the safety pin, when embellished with colored beads and strung together on elastic, could produce endless bracelet variations, as was the case in the Eighties when teen girls crafted the items to exchange with their best friends.

But Montgomery and her partner, James Lambert, weren’t satisfied with rehashing the bracelets alone. They wanted to design something more marketable.

“One day, I thought, that’s it, a watch,” said Montgomery. The watches come in 12 different color schemes and are priced at $45 wholesale. Montgomery said they are popular with all ages.

“It’s a fun, clever, hip idea,” she said. “For young girls, it’s eye candy, but it’s also sophisticated enough for older women to throw on with jeans and a T-shirt or to wear out at night.

The watches are presently sold in boutiques in 12 states, including Shop Girl in Chicago, Henri Bendel in New York and Fred Segal in Santa Monica, Calif. Monji is expecting $4.8 million in sales over the next year.