Sponsorship is a powerful marketing tool not only to raise brand awareness but also to build the brand image. Breguet is a great example for that matter since the brand differentiated itself from its competitors through its sponsorship strategy.
The majority of high end watches brands are endorsed by famous movie stars and athletes, the brands will appear at car races, horse races, tennis match or at any major sport tournament. This way the watchmakers will use the athlete image to improve their own image. By sponsoring sport tournaments the watchmakers also associate their brands – in the eye of the consumer – with characteristics such as friability, accuracy, autonomy, resistance… This is not the path Breguet chose to follow in the last few years.
When Nicolas Haykek bought the brand in 1999 in perfectly knew that the watches were high quality products that only lacked a touch of marketing magic! Before this acquisition Breguet was positioned as a sport brand. At the time the marketing department was mainly dedicated to the “type XX” a stainless steel sport watch. But because of Breguet’s history Nicolas Hayek refused this unoriginal positioning and chose to focus all efforts on the cultural “side” of Breguet. To implement this new brand image and operate a shift in the communication strategy major actions changes appeared. A series of advertisement focused on the most famous former Breguet owners like Napoleon, Marie Antoinette or Churchill was made. Then new ads would depict the atmosphere of books were Breguet watches were an integral part of the story, as in Eugenie Grandet from Honoré de Balzac or Eugène Onéguine from Alexandre Pouchkine. The production of the XX was stopped and all efforts were focused on the “Tourbillon” (see previous articles) the true heritage of the brand.
Since then Breguet became a major patron of the Art and the sponsor of major exhibitions. To name a few : Sponsor for the restauration of the “Petit Trianon de Versailles” (2008) official sponsor of the “Philharmonic Orchestra of New York (2010) sponsor of the Louvres (2014) main sponsor for the restauration of the “Hougoumont Farm” – Battle of Waterloo – (2015)… This new sponsorship strategy perfectly embraces the image the brand is willing to convey. A brand with roots deeply anchored in the history of Europe. Designing such timepieces with historical connections to famous figures connects the products and the image of the brand. Breguet wants to demonstrate that they can create modern watches that won’t go out of style while taking inspiration in their history. History is such an important concept for the brand that every owner’s name of a Breguet since the 18th century is kept in the brand registries.
This connection to history constitutes an excellent tool to elaborate a good storytelling for the brand. In an interview for “Luxury Daily” (January 22, 2016) Mr Mike Nelson – Brand Manager at Breguet US – said: “I think one of the words that stands out is history, and within history there is the keyword story. It’s about creating that story about the brand, which does create the meaning. In a short cut kind of way, partnering with these museums and other institutions helps to create that meaning in the customers’ minds”. The key to a good branding is “the meaning” the image is conveying. The consumer is not buying a product anymore but an intangible ideal. Sponsorship by any means (Events, celebrities…) simply provides a platform which brings a brand to life thus creating a physical demonstration of the brands key attributes. It is also a way to communicate about your brand without being too intrusive; consumers are usually a lot more receptive when confronted to this kind of marketing strategy. By sponsoring events, exhibitions or competitions the brand can interact on a personal level with the consumer providing him with a remarkable brand experience. The consumer will be more receptive to this “subtle” communication strategy when the logo of the brand will appear while visiting the Louvres or the Hougoumont Farm. The brand is then directly related to its personal passions and hobbies and not to “cold” bland products characteristics.
Needless to say that this strategy “revived” a dying watchmaker. The image transfer operated from history and cultural heritage enabled the potential customer to picture himself as the heir of a long line of historical figures. The Breguet practice is a perfect example of an efficient sponsorship strategy that can really pay off and differentiate a brand from its competitors.