Saturday, April 11, 2009

Analysis of Rolex and Movado Watch Ads

Watches often do more than tell time. They can help a consumer define and project an image: sometimes for status and power, sometimes to convey style and cultivation.

High-end brands have such extraordinary demand these days; the wait list can be as long as two years to get a Jaeger-LeCoultre. Socha reports that Patek Philippe sold 28,000 watches and Jaeger-LeCoultre sold 50,000 in the Prestige category, while Rolex in the Luxury category sold 900,000 (Socha, 2007, 2008, p 1).

It is no longer rare for Prestige watches to sell in the high six figures. Business is booming and all Prestige manufacturers sell every watch they produce. Even the lower-tier Rolex line is benefiting from this trend. Murphy (2008, p 1) notes that sales were even better into 2008, and quotes that "A diamond watch doesn't sit in our shop more than a week."

The Prestige makers have established "heirloom quality."
Keller (2008, p 137) notes their mantra, "You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely take care of it for the next generation." So it is with Jaeger-LeCoultre. Here is their watch Queen Elizabeth received at her coronation. Not so with Rolex. Timex? A different kettle of fish altogether.

Rolex watches have a divine heaviness. You would just not expect them to release a plastic Rolex. They reinforce this image of eminence with advertising and celebrity endorsements. Green (2004, p1) reports that Arnold Palmer was interviewed on playing his 50th Masters and, of course, endorsed Rolex. What’s more, Rolex is the 7th largest magazine advertiser in the world. Keller (p 137) notes that "Rolex watches retain their value better than almost any other type of good." However, they have not been able to establish the "heirloom quality" of the top brands.

Keller (pp 133-7) finds that Rolex is among the most "recognized luxury brands in the world." However, Rolex is positioned between the Prestige producers and the next-tier producers and so they have established the lower-priced Tudor line as a "fighter-brand" to keep Tag-Hauer, Movado and Citizen from encroaching into their niche.

I present for your consideration the following ad in the November 2008 issue of Vogue (see Illustration One). First attribute: it’s a two page ad for 30 words of text. This makes a statement; Rolex is an eminent player, worthy of your attention. The alluring model with classic features is the 77-year-old Carmen Dell'Orefice (see Rumbold, 2008 for a two page biography), according to Kathy (2008, p 1). Her ageless beauty underscores the timeless value of the Rolex she is wearing. The redundant headline reads, “Class is Forever”, but we have already gotten the message. Rolex wants to break into the heirloom niche so it can obtain high figures like the Prestige brands.

The body copy has important words – royal, diamond adorned, Stingray leather, and Black Sapphire. If there was reservation before, it is now dispelled: this is a watch like no other, made for royalty from only the rarest materials. It uniquely enhances your image. This professional ad will certainly appeal to the following VALS Segments: Innovators, Achievers and Strivers.

To Innovators, the beauty and class of Rolex is a valuable extension of their self. It reflects (see Hawkins, 2007, p 447), “a cultivated taste for the finer things in life.” To Achievers, the imminence of the Rolex brand appeals to their needs for (see Hawkins, p 448) “established, prestige products and services that demonstrate success to their peers.” Finally, Strivers can emulate the wealthy with a Rolex but they may end up with a Tudor model, the fighter-brand – cheap enough to compete with Citizens.

Illustration One (left page): Rolex, “Classic is Forever” Ad

Illustration One (right page): Rolex “Class is Forever” Ad

Movado and African Americans

Hawkins, et al (2007, p 167) say that “not all messages targeted at African Americans need to differ significantly from those targeted at other groups.” They qualify this rule with the caveat that incorporating black actors, models or spokespersons in the ad is important. A key segment in this audience is what Hawkins, et al call (p 164) “market leaders.” This group sees brands as communicating their unique self-image.

The Movado ad is also two pages, presenting prestige through this eminent use of space and disregard for cost. The two pages permit a flattering photograph of the attractive black actress Kerry Washington and the Movado watch as well. The body copy tells us about the acclaimed actress, and that the watch is available at fine jewelry stores. The impression is this watch is not a mass production pop-out that anyone can own. Noteworthy in the photo of the watch is the diamond studding, the gold accessorizing and the header “The Art of Design.”

The ad does not offer extensive body copy. Jérôme Lambert the CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre sums up the advantage for this minimalism towards high-end audiences (see Lechevalier, 2009, p 1):

“The products are the real brand ambassadors; that’s our basic message. They have so much to say, and communication is a tool that loses so much of its efficiency when you overlay too many messages.”

The audience here, I think, is the VALS: Innovator segment. Image is important to them (see Hawkins, p 446-7). Brands act as an extension of self, and an expression of cultivated taste, and independence.

Many Innovators are emerging leaders. Kerry Washington is a good choice for the ad because she is an emerging film star (see Wikipedia, 2009, p1) with performances of note in Last King of Scotland and Ray Charles.

Zinkum and Hong (1991, p 352) conclude that advertising which fits with a person’s ideal self obtains a more favorable attitude toward the brand than if the had been more consistent with their actual self-concept. The Movado ad targets African-American women who are VALS Innovators and have affinity with Kerry Washington's attractive and successful image. One thing to help them establish their ideal is the Movado Esperanza watch, one that becomes an “extension of their personality” (see Hawkins, 2007, p 447).

Illustration Two (left page): Movado and African Americans

Illustration Two (right page): Movado and African Americans

Green, Barbara (6/16/2004). Rolex loyalist Arnold Palmer plays 50th Masters Tournament. National Jeweler;Vol. 98 Issue 12. Retrieved on March 30, 2009 from EBSCOHOST.

Hawkins, Del, David Mothersbaugh and Roger Best (2007). Consumer Behavior. McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Kathy (November 11, 2008).Rolex "Class is Forever" attention-grabbing ad. Retrieved on March 30, 2009 from

Keller, K (2008), Strategic Brand Management. Pearson/Prentice-Hall.

Lechevalier, Brice (2009). GMT. Retrieved on April 1, 2009 from

Murphy, Robert (4/14/2008) FAST TIMES IN WATCHES: FIRMS SEE BOOM FOR UBER-LUXURY STYLES. Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved on March 30, 2009 from EBSCOHOST.

Rumbold, Judy (3:54PM GMT 11 Jan 2008) Carmen Dell'Orefice: eternal grace. The Telegraph. Retrieved on April 1, 2009 from

Socha, Miles, (7/30/2007). Demand Soars for Six-Figure Watches. Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved on March 30, 2009 from EBSCOHOST.

Univ. of S. Miss (Fall 2007). The VALS Segment Profiles. Retrieved on March 30, 2009 from

Wikipedia (2009). Kerry Washington. Retrieved on April 1, 2009 from

Zinkhan, George M. and Jae W. Hong (1991). Self Concept and Advertising Effectiveness: A Conceptual Mode! of Congruency,Conspicuousness, and Response Mode. Advances in Consumer Research. Retrieved on April 1, 2009 from WVU IMC 612 Week 3 readings.

1 comment:

Philip Graves said...

I've taken your profile at its word that you're "trying to get a perspective on mass communications", so this intended as a genuinely constructive criticism of your blog.

You have constructed a well researched and well constructed analysis of the ads from the perspective of marketing theory; unfortunately that theory is fundamentally flawed.

The problem is that consumer behaviour is largely a matter of the unconscious rather conscious. All the studies that rely on respondent's self-reporting their attitudes to brands are fundamentally flawed.

Our conscious attitudes are, for the most part, illusions that we tell ourselves in a bid to make sense of the unconscious feelings we experience.

To get a step change in your understanding of mass communication it's necessary to consider how customers (people) actually think.

I write about some of these issues at my consumer behaviour website if you're interested (shameless plug for but you can also read the science and theory in books like The Feeling of What Happens (Damasio) and The Illusion of Conscious Will (Wegner).