Where We Soared - Swatch

Where We Soared - Swatch

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Swatch HQ pays for the billboards on the Champs Elyssees in Paris. It pays for the billboards in London.  But the $1 million per year billboard in New York City’s Times Square was paid by the Swatch US marketing budget. This made all of us at Swatch US grumpy. Add to this the debut of Swatch’s new “Bunnysutra” (velveteen rabbits sketched in varied states of copulation). Most of the US brand team was downright afraid of this watch. But as head of US brand communications, I embraced the “incendiary” timepiece; I told the team to put an image of the watch on the billboard over the Times Square store. Then, I called the New York Post and invited them to tap folks in Times Square on the shoulder to gauge their reactions. As suspected, New Yorkers shrugged or thought it was “cute,” while 

visitors from the middle of the country were appalled. (“I mean, what am I supposed to tell my children?!”) This was proof of Swatch DNA’s “positive provocation.” The resulting article fueled more media: 125 television stories, interviews with business press, an Associated Press wire story…. Our story was featured in the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, and Italy. A crisis communications center was set up, but only 88 calls and emails were recorded. Meanwhile, we sold 16,000 Bunnysutra watches in nine months and proved in the process that the Times Square billboard was an international marketing vehicle and should be paid for by HQ.