Flicking through the Sunday papers, I was struck by the prevalence of luxury watch adverts. They’re as regular a fixture as the crossword. In fact they’re so regular, I hadn’t really considered them before.
They tend to follow a pretty standard format: glossy photo of a watch or glossy photo of a celebrity wearing a watch.
It’s a curious arrangement. Many of these watches retail for several thousand pounds. The only products that compare in this forum are cars and holidays. But cars and holidays typically cost several thousand pounds, while watches are available for a tenner or less. The luxury models and brands that feature in the national press constitute jewelry as much as timepieces. They are a symbol of wealth and success. But would an advert like this prompt someone to buy such an item? It sems unlikely that this would be the driver behind such a purchase. Far more likely that a prospective buyer would try a few models in a jeweller’s shop before making a decision. So why advertise here?
Brand awareness is an important factor. Much as ‘Rolex’ might be synonymous with ‘watch’ for many people, but it’s important for companies to ensure that these links remain in people’s minds. Reinforcing the link between a brand and certain celebrities helps maintain its luxury status and reputation.
There’s another more subtle reason too. A purchase like this is about status, whether the person buying it is doing so for themselves or as a gift for someone else. It is important therefore that a product is seen in the right places. Associating it with a brand like the Sunday Times carries a certain caché. The Sunday Times’ brand qualia are important here, whilst its parent company News International has suffered embarrassment, the paper is still globally renowned as the archetypal Sunday paper. Companies that place glossy ads here are demonstrating large marketing budgets and associations of class.
This is almost retrospective marketing; affirming that the purchase you have made is the right one. The ads reinforce the status of the products for buyers before and after the sale. With high value items like these, repeat business is important: maintaining a reputation and brand status will ensure the company’s longevity.