[email protected] - The art of subliminal advertising

July 2012

Boy, have Rolex and Hublot got it right or what? With the summer only half way through those two brand names have had so much exposure on television it’s unbelievable.

In June we had the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, better known as the Euro 2012 Finals. 31 matches were played over a total of around 2,850 minutes, during which time the Hublot brand name appeared every time a player was substituted or additional playing time was shown on an electronic board hoisted above the head by what is known as the Fourth Official. That is forty-seven and a half hours of possible subliminal advertising for what was probably a derisory (in watch company advertising budgets terms) amount of money spent. And if I’m not mistaken, I think I caught a glimpse of Roy Hodgson, the England team manager, wearing a Hublot Big Bang.

A remarkable coup by that master of marketing, Jean-Claude Biver, but even his brilliant marketing manoeuvre is put in the shade by Rolex. A partner of The Championships at Wimbledon since 1978 when Rolex became the “Official Watch”, the amount of time the Rolex name has appeared on television screens around the world can only be estimated, but given that the name and the logo appears on the ever-present scoreboard, we’ve got to be talking around 4,000 hours over the years. And that’s not to mention this year’s winner of the Gentlemen’s Single Final, the Rolex ambassador, Roger Federer. On winning his seventh Wimbledon title after beating Scotland’s Andy Murray, he dropped onto the hallowed green turf of the centre court, then victoriously sauntered over to his chair, nimbly pulled off his bandana, wiped his forehead and placed an exquisite gold Rolex watch on his wrist prior to receiving the winner’s magnificent golden cup. Déformation professionnelle oblige, it was a rose gold Rolex Day-Date II—or as the brand care to refer to it as an Everose Gold watch, which is not only pretentious but also redundant since 18-carat gold doesn’t discolour unless there is a problem in the alloying of the metal—which is highly unlikely chez Rolex or Metalor!

In addition to the watches that the genius with the racket receives, I discovered on Gregory Pons’ Business Montres site that it is rumoured that Federer’s annual income from this ambassadorship is around fifteen million dollars. Again, hardly a dent in the annual budget!

To give my eyes a rest and my body a workout after sprawling across the couch for all those hours of sport, I left the sunshine and warmth of the Côte d’Azur and squeezed into an EasyJet and popped over to London to attend a rather posh wedding, morning dress et al.

It’s all busy, busy, busy over there as the city prepares for the invasion of visitors to the summer Olympics, which in British terms means between 15 and 16 degrees centigrade accompanied by daily tropical downpours many countries in Africa never see in a lifetime.

But back to the Olympics: the opening ceremony is on Friday, July 27 and the closing ceremony is on Sunday, August 12. During those two weeks, another Swiss watch brand will be reaping the rewards of subliminal advertising since Omega is the official timekeeper for the games—and not for the first time either, this is the brand’s 25th occasion. Clearly a marketing tool par excellence.

But back to my visit. Whilst roaming around the West End I was drawn to watch retailers’ windows like a wasp to my sandwich and was impressed by the omnipresence of Omega watches. However, in one leading retailer’s display, the Omega name on the display was facing the wrong way, so, being a good Samaritan, I ventured into the shop and told one of the salespeople, a rather churlish man as it turned out who mumbled something about it being readable from the inside and showed me the door with a simple “Good Morning”.

Two days later, on my way to buy some cheddar cheese at Selfridges I passed by the display again to discover that it hadn’t been corrected—and voilà, the proof snapped by my telephone’s camera. Why did I bother? Well may you ask, but I thought that perhaps Stephen Urquhart, the brand’s President, would have appreciated the gesture—after all he has Scottish blood running through his veins.

So with the Olympics in London I suppose there will be many people sprinting through the streets this summer, carrying torches and passing batons, a bit like last summer except they were passing television sets and other moveable objects. So, here’s my Olympic games story: an attractive blonde sees a man carrying a long metal bar close to the athletes’ entrance and asks him if he’s a pole vaulter.

“No,” says the man, “I’m German, but how did you know my name is Walter?” Well, you’ve got to laugh haven’t you.

LAKIN@LARGE - The art of subliminal advertising

Source: Europa Star August - September 2012 Magazine Issue