Paging through The New York Times A section, a reader needn't look for the multitude of watch ads that seem to troop up and down pages in syncopated monotone. But to know which watch is the timepiece of the times, Piaget Polo wanted its customers to watch editorial column inches, not display ads.
Piaget's VP of marketing Philippe Bonay says that in relaunching the Piaget Polo brand, he wanted to shake up the conservative watch industry by relying on PR over the industry's traditional marketing vehicle of advertising. "I was given the mandate to relaunch a major product, and basically create a template to roll out around the world,
"Going in, I felt we were relaunching an icon, and had really one shot at bringing back the brand. I was looking for something outside the box."
Bonay chose Dan Klores Communications (DKC) for one of the watch industry's first PR-intensive campaigns.
The goal of the Piaget Polo relaunch was to regain the brand's 1980s iconic, status-symbol status. The target audience stretched from 20- to 55-year-olds, with the dual demographic descriptions of younger/older, established/ aspirational, aristocratic/nouveau riche. That duality was the centerpiece of DKC's plan to create a "must have
furor: The agency would create an aura of 1980s glamour and contemporary style; upscale and casual elegance; traditional and new; jet-setting and trendsetting; exclusive and accessible. But for the campaign to be effective, the agency's plans would have to go like clockwork.
To reintroduce a luxury product in a lackluster economy, DKC formed strategic partnerships with photographer Jessica Craig-Martin, the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation (RPAF), and Hamptons magazine.
Diana Kashan, DKC VP, explains that through the irreverent lens of Craig-Martin's high-society photographs, Piaget Polo not only created its product brochure, but also filled Hamptons magazine's society pages with images of partygoers with Piaget Polos strapped to their wrists. Craig-Martin also photographed the launch party, held at the RPAF, which Kashan said was chosen because its dual downtown-charity nature would match the dual demographics courted by the brand.
"Rush was not a charity Piaget Polo would have been associated with in the 1980s. This is a different kind of high society that embraces music people, fashion people, and art people,
says Kashan. "That's where the beauty of Jessica Craig-Martin's work came in. When she photographs very exclusive events, she does them with a twist - a more downtown approach."
The campaign of duality as shot by the photographer with the twisted, dual style created one coherent media blitz for Piaget Polo. Features on the watch were published in the New York Post, Vanity Fair, Conde Nast Traveler, USA Today, Elle, W, Vogue, the Robb Report, Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Fortune, Town & Country, House & Garden, and Playboy.
The launch party, despite being held on September 10, was covered by the New York Post, New York Daily News, and US Weekly.
Sales are up as well. Bonay claims that watches are sold as soon as they reach the stores. For the men's yellow-gold watch, he says, the company could have sold twice as many if it hadn't underestimated demand. Bonay also says the brand is back on the shopping lists of athletes, celebrities, and the younger customers courted by Piaget Polo. "We have not seen anything like this in 20-25 years,
he says of watches sold with prices that start at $4,000 and reach as high as $1 million.
DKC continues work with Piaget Polo to help the brand reestablish itself in the US market by building upon the buzz it created last year. The agency is also working with other Piaget brands, including the company's first stainless steel sports watch, the Upstream. DKC also works on Piaget jewelry lines.
Piaget Polo's competition, DKC warns, had better watch out.