There was a time when conversations were about ambassadors. Now all we hear of are influencers. Fortunately, we can still make the distinction between the two. The former is a (world-class) professional in his or her field, be that sport, entertainment, even science. The latter is, more often than not, an attractive young woman or, failing that, an unsophisticated male complete with pumped-up pecs and tattoos. There’s also the “make ’em laugh” variety. Ambassadors have names like George Clooney. Influencers are called Chiara Ferragni or, worse, Fedez.
What they “produce” in terms of communication is measured by Media Impact Value™ (MIV®), a proprietary algorithm developed by Launchmetrics, a marketing platform and analytics solution, that measures the impact of influencer and ambassador placements and mentions across different voices in the fashion, luxury and cosmetics industries.
In the luxury watch segment, Launchmetrics tells us that in May this year, the most talked-about ambassador was Claudia Schiffer with Chanel (€205.3K in MEV), followed by Liu Wen also for Chanel (€143.2K). Third place goes to Mohammed Al Turki who generated €112.8K for Piaget.
Again in May, the watch brands with the loudest voice across online, social and print media were (in order) Rolex, Chanel, TAG Heuer, Omega, Longines, Patek Philippe, Hublot, Piaget, Breitling and IWC (source: https://www.launchmetrics.com/resources/blog/luxury-watch-brands-ranking).
Rankings vary month by month depending on what’s news around the world, whether it’s a film festival, an art biennial, a motor racing Grand Prix or a Grand Slam tennis tournament.
In fact the tennis court is where we are most likely to see champions wearing watches that were created especially for them. Richard Mille is well-known for making ultra-light, ultra shock-resistant watches for Mallorcan player Rafael Nadal. The RM-27 03 tourbillon (personalised in the red and yellow colours of the Spanish flag) is priced between €700,000 and €800,000.
After gracing the courts at the French Open in Paris, we can expect to see this piece of horological engineering during Wimbledon fortnight, “challenging” the other brands present such as Rolex, partner to Roger Federer, or Seiko, Novak Djokovic’s choice. Or Capri Watch, the official brand of the Italian Tennis Federation and sponsor of Croatian player Marin Čiliċ and Italian Fabio Fognini. What will MIV have to say?
Statistics and algorithms aside, there is a moral to this story. Ambassadors such as Nadal and Federer, the likes of Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton for IWC or freediver Guillaume Néry (who plunged 139 metres wearing an Officine Panerai watch) will always leave us believing that by wearing this tourbillon or that chronograph, we too, however briefly, can be heroes just like them. But what mechanism, operating through a smartphone screen, can make us want to identify with the life and work of an influencer whose only achievement is to have convinced complicit agencies to send them, free of charge, the “desirable objects” of throwaway consumerism: shoes, shirts, and whatever else fashion imposes on us.
But what if that were the whole point? Becoming an influencer requires no particular qualities (especially no sporting skills), so maybe I too can look forward to receiving a free pair of shoes with 12cm heels or a dozen personalised T-shirts. You’ve got my address.