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Watchmakers get creative in communications

Watchmakers get creative in communications

Friday, 28 November 2008
By Florence Noël
Florence Noël

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4 min read

The “Prix Suisse de la Campagne Horlogère” goes from strength to strength, proving that advertising and communication are now part and parcel of brands’ commercial strategies.

It could be just another award, and yet… Orchestrated by the Ringier media corporation, whose publications include Montres Passion, the Prix Suisse de la Campagne Horlogère confirms the existence of a relatively new phenomenon in the watch industry: it takes more than a watch to sell a watch. Hence brands are now investing a considerable slice of their budget in communication, i-dotting and t-crossing their ads to make each one a mini masterpiece.

Proof of their interest is the number of entries in this year’s awards, whose winners are announced at the same time as Watch of the Year. From 44 in 2007, the first year the competition was held, the number of entries rose to 97 this year, in categories ranging from communication campaigns to print ads and other image-promoting activities.

The man behind the awards, Patrick Zanello, is head of marketing and advertising at Ringier Romandie. “For a long time, brands focused their creative energy on product design, or on technical innovation while communication was classic, designed to please all. It only recently occurred to them that another way to win over their target audience was with original ad campaigns. We invented the awards to promote and encourage this type of creativity,” he explains, adding that if the prizes are attracting more interest, it is because they reflect a genuine market trend.

Do not dry clean © Marvin
Do not dry clean © Marvin
Independence above all

For a media corporation whose publications rely to a large extent on advertisers for their commercial success, the idea of awarding a Prix Suisse de la Campagne Horlogère could be seen as rather impertinent. Not so, says Patrick Zanello, who insists on the absolute integrity and transparency of the jury. “This is a fundamental principle and the first rule we imposed ourselves. Hence not one person on the panel of judges is from the Ringier group. Instead, the jury comprises eight communications professionals, representing the Swiss marketplace. Nor do we ever invite entries. The brands themselves choose to compete in one or other of the categories.”

The jury, chaired by Danièle Michel, director of communication and marketing for Nestlé Suisse, is made up of influential figures from the world of marketing (see below). They scrutinise the rival campaigns, debating on their creativity, and the relevance and impact of the message they deliver. The jury, backed by the public’s votes, then awards prizes in two categories – print and corporate – with up to four prizes and special citations. The winners receive, among other things, complimentary advertising space in Ringier publications.

A "young" winner

After singling out Patek Philippe’s talked-about “Generations” campaign in 2007, the Print Campaign prize for 2008 went to a “newcomer” in the market: Marvin. Having recently repositioned in the mid-range mechanical watch segment, the brand, established in 1850, has launched a highly original campaign with the strapline “new times, new codes” and visuals that use offbeat humour to present quality watches as veritable style accessories, on a par with a tie or a designer-label suit. “This campaign is an excellent example of creativity used to full effect,” notes Patrick Zanello who adds, smiling, “Marvin has never spent a single cent on advertising in one of Ringier’s publications, and I doubt this prize will make any difference. Small brands such as Marvin don’t have huge advertising budgets. So you see what I mean about these being independent awards…”

The 2008 winners
Jury Prize: print campaign: Marvin
Jury Prize: corporate campaign: La Montre Hermès
Swiss Public Prize: print campaign: Omega
Jury Citation: humour: Omega
Jury Citation: originality: Technomarine
Jury Citation: sensuality: Ebel

The judges for the 2008 Prix Suisse de la Campagne Horlogère were:
Danièle Michel, director of communication and marketing, Nestlé Suisse (Chair)
Jean-Marc Brandenberger, president, Fédération Romande de Publicité
Franck Bodin, president, BSW Leading Swiss Agencies
Timo Kiriez, artistic director, McCann Switzerland
Rainer Kupper, chief marketing officer, Keystone
Regis Colombo, president, Union Suisse des Photographes Professionnels
Jérôme Grosse, director of communications, EPFL
Stéphane Tencer, lecturer in luxury marketing, ISTEC

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