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Movado thinks it's time to give watches a new face.

At a premiere party in Los Angeles Oct. 19, Movado Group will show off its ESQ line and the brand's tie-in with the Fox TV show "Time of Your Life." In-store events and a contest promotion will follow, with TV commercials coming in November. A six-page ad section in the December issue of Vogue will feature young TV stars modeling watches.

The campaign is part of a new strategy by Movado to reposition both ESQ and its Concord brand to younger consumers. The company also markets Corum and Movado watches, and makes those carrying the Coach and Tommy Hilfiger brand via licensing agreements.

The ESQ campaign repositions the brand to consumers in the 22-to-35-year-old age range, said Scott Woodward, senior VP-chief marketing officer. That demographic group is perfect for ESQ watches, he said, because the watches sell in a midprice range of $150 to $400 each.

The move to a hipper image began when Mr. Woodward joined Movado last fall from Bausch & Lomb Eyewear, where he worked on Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Both ESQ and Concord have the potential to "explode" globally, Mr. Woodward said, adding that the main Movado brand has a stronger image and is thus less likely to go through drastic change.


Movado has been one of the leaders in changing the way watches are marketed in the U.S., said Jeff Prine, senior editor at Modern Jeweler. Along with luxury watch marketers such as Tag Heuer and Patek Phillipe, Movado has switched the focus of watch advertising from product features to building a brand image, he said.

"The industry has woken up to the fact that it's not a manufacturing industry, it's a marketing industry," Mr. Prine noted. "They've finally awakened to the fact that if they're going to grow their share of business, they need to build their brand."

Mr. Prine said reliable industry sales data are virtually non-existent, adding that watchmakers have been experiencing single-digit sales increases. That's largely because consumer marketing had been such a low priority in the past.

But that's changing. The new TV commercials for ESQ from agency AG, New York, use the tagline "Unwind."


In one spot, a harried boss searches in vain through a maze of b&w cubicles. "Where's Johnson? he asks. "He called in sick, he sounded awful," an office worker replies. Then Johnson and a friend are shown, in color, tooling around the countryside on a motorbike to the strains of "Born to Be Wild."

This effort follows a similar repositioning of Concord that broke last month. Those print and outdoor ads, also by AG, feature shots of couples in the shower or in bed with the tagline "Be late."

AG was awarded ESQ's $8 million account last winter, some months after it won the $6 million to $8 million Concord account. Advertising for both previously had been handled in-house.

Among other key efforts, Tag Heuer last spring introduced Alter Ego, its first line designed specifically for women, with a celebrity-studded ad campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi, New York. Ads in June issues of magazines sported tennis player Monica Seles and actresses Kristin Scott Thomas and Helena Bonham Carter, among others.

Patek Philippe also launched its first U.S. campaign aimed at women recently, an effort for new line Twenty-4.

The Swiss watchmaker started the drive in October magazines, including Town & Country, Vanity Fair, Vogue and W.

Ads, from Leagas Delaney Partnership, London, feature model Bridget Hall and the tagline, "Who will you be in the next 24 hours?"

Women are a key marketing target, said Mr. Prine, who noted that consumer polls show 55% of watches are bought by women. Yet most women's watch lines are only scaled-down versions of men's watches and, in the past, the bulk of advertising was aimed at men.


"It's a lifestyle thing-it's an attitudinal thing. It's not just a shot of a watch," said Mr. Prine, referring to the changes in watch advertising campaigns.

Movado executives said a recent Gallup poll found just 51% of U.S. consumers owned two or more watches, which leaves nearly half the U.S. public with one timepiece or with none at all. So the focus on marketing is driven as much by the potential for sales as recent sales results.

Marketers also have zeroed in on the U.S. market because Europe is saturated and Asian markets have wound down due to the region's financial troubles, Mr. Prine said.

The U.S. is ripe because the strong economy has created an appetite for luxury

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