CAMPAIGNS: Ice-Tek reaches for stars to build buzz for watches

PR Team: Ice-Tek Watch Company (New York) and 5W Public Relations (New York) Campaign: Creating Brand Awareness for Ice-Tek Watches Time Frame: April 2003-ongoing Budget: Under $100,000 annually

PR Team: Ice-Tek Watch Company (New York) and 5W Public Relations (New York) Campaign: Creating Brand Awareness for Ice-Tek Watches Time Frame: April 2003-ongoing Budget: Under $100,000 annually

To fashionistas, labels are often deliberately clandestine, the Prada or Gucci tag tucked away beneath the pristine garment. This surely isn't the case for hip-hop fashion, where urban consumers sport logos from head to toe, becoming virtual walking advertisements. New companies with no brand affiliation undoubtedly face competitive resistance in this corner of fashion. Such were the prospects for Ice-Tek Watch Company, which began selling diamond-encrusted sport watches this past January. The watches vary in price from $2,000 to $14,000, with the most expensive clad in six-and-a-half carats of full-cut white diamonds. Facing a saturated, impenetrable market with a relatively small budget, Ice-Tek opted to get on its feet with PR, hiring 5W Public Relations three months after its product launch. "Their wide range of clientele, from Israeli politicians to Bad Boy Entertainment, showed creativity," says Daniel Pasternak, Ice-Tek cofounder. Strategy In total, Ice-Tek introduced six watches this year, and wanted to target the hip-hop community for its men's line. For women, a more general approach was taken, marketing the watches for the young and hip. In its simplest form, the campaign was "to raise awareness of the beauty of these watches," says Ronn Torossian, president at 5W PR. Tactics Nonetheless, the campaign was hardly simple. "To reach the urban consumer, it's often required to use less traditional PR maneuvers," says Torossian. In order to penetrate the hip-hop community, the team at 5W went on music-video sets, pitching Ice-Tek watches for placement in a variety of videos by rap artists such as 50 Cent. In turn, when 50Cent, LL Cool J, and other artists started modeling the watches, 5W was able to portray Ice-Tek as the choice of celebrities. The focus of media relations was on hits in New York City, including the New York Post and New York Daily News, because the Big Apple is arguably the epicenter of hip-hop, says Torossian. Also, coverage was secured in essential readings of the hip-hop community, like Source and Vibe magazines. The highlight of the campaign occurred when Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, a successful rap artist and owner of Bad Boy Entertainment, announced that he was interested in becoming a minority owner of Ice-Tek. A deal was never made, but the buzz created was priceless. Results Ice-Tek was able to capitalize on that buzz when watch dealers and department stores started contacting them, asking to set up distribution, says Pasternak. Sales increased exponentially, and although it is difficult to say exactly how much of that is attributed to 5W's efforts, Pasternak estimates that increase is around 500%. Reflecting on the success, Torossian says "Ice-Tek is not a household name like Rolex, but in a hip-hop household, it is." However, a greater variety of consumers can be seen in the diversity of celebrities wearing the watches, including Justin Timberlake, Oprah Winfrey, and Kate Hudson. Future 5W is continuing to work with Ice-Tek, which is in the process of developing new watches. "Day to day, we're doing product placement," says Torossian. In September, the company started some serious advertising efforts, mainly in rap-music-oriented magazines. Recently, Ice-Tek secured a sponsorship with several NBA teams, including the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons, a move that should pave the way for outreach to myriad consumers without neglecting the target market in the men's line - the hip-hop listening, label-conscious consumer.

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