Supplier News

UNO A ERRE LAUNCHES BRANDING CAMPAIGN

A noted Italian company is forging a jewelry-fashion link and making its name known to U.S. consumers

Gori & Zucchi Inc., one of the world’s oldest and largest gold jewelry manufacturers, aims to break the jewelry brand barrier in the U.S. with its Uno A Erre collections of gold jewelry.

The company, based in Arezzo, Italy, already markets Uno A Erre as a consumer brand name in Italy, Japan and some other countries. Now it has developed a three-part program to do the same in the U.S.

“The Uno A Erre name signifies quality and tradition and gives consumers confidence in an accurate gold content,” says Paolo Novembri, the company’s executive vice president.

The time is right to take this message to consumers, he says, because intense competition is driving down quality and profit margins at the same time that U.S. consumers are seeking better value and jewelers are seeking profit builders.

Fashion factor: The first, and most crucial, step in the branding process is product development. “The concept of jewelry product development is exactly comparable to product development in fashion,” says Novembri. “By anticipating trends in fashion, the jewelry industry will get direction to develop ready-to-wear product.”

The Uno A Erre marketing structure will be virtually identical to that of top fashion designers: each season will have couture and ready-to-wear collections. The couture collections will be design-forward, somewhat experimental and made to order. They will appeal to a small segment of the market, such as clothes made to order by Yves St. Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro and so forth. The ready-to-wear collections will be upscale but a bit more affordable and more widely accessible, such as the ready-to-wear designs by St. Laurent, Ungaro, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and so forth.

Like the fashion industry, the products developed for couture will be translated into ready-to-wear versions. For example, the Earth to Cyber collection by Paola De Luca is strictly couture, but elements from it will influence the ready-to-wear collections (see sidebar on page 174).

Both collections will have fashion-forward looks that may not yet be appreciated by U.S. consumers, says Novembri. Uno A Erre intends to present trends it feels are valid, but one or two years in advance. It’s risky business, he says, but he believes the timing is right. He cites gold granulation as an example of successful timing, saying Americans who didn’t understand the look four or five years ago are learning to appreciate it now.

The new branded collections will be all 18k gold. (Gori & Zucchi will continue to manufacture its 14k lines, but they are not part of the branding efforts. There will be no crossover between the basic and Uno A Erre collections.)

Positioning, advertising: The second step in the branding process is building an image, particularly positioning the collections in stores and creating desire among target customers.

The company intends to limit distribution to independent and department stores with a high-level image and a willingness to cooperate with the Uno A Erre marketing program. “We know some stores want to promote their own image first,” says Novembri. “We think it will be in their interest to promote our brand name as well, since our name will be recognized by consumers.” Participating stores also must have a certain customer base. Uno A Erre’s target is a “fashion customer,” a sophisticated, modern woman to whom fashion is important and who buys jewelry for herself.

The final step in the branding process is an aggressive consumer advertising campaign. Beginning this spring, a graduated campaign will begin on the local, regional and national levels. Ad plans include upscale fashion and lifestyle magazines, newspapers and television, plus packaging, merchandise tags, quality certificates and window and showcase display materials. Retailers will provide window space for the Uno A Erre collections, and the company will provide display material.

The branding process will rely partly on Uno A Erre’s Italian heritage. “Italian” conveys an image of fashionability, design, quality and tradition to consumers, says Novembri. In fact, the Uno A Erre name came about because of the gold registration system in Italy. It’s a stylized version of the company’s stamp 1-AR, meaning it was the first gold jewelry company to be registered in Arezzo.

The company also will begin a retailer education program this spring with a series of seminars explaining the company’s heritage and why it feels its product is superior. The program includes a video that can be used in the store for employees or consumers. “Some consumer perception [of gold jewelry] is wrong. We want to make sure consumer perception is right. Together [with the retailer] we will work to build our image,” says Novembri.

UNO A ERRE JOINS FIGHT AGAINST AIDS

Uno A Erre was named to manufacture a special gold AIDS bracelet that will be the focus of a public service campaign starting this spring. The campaign, sponsored by the Until There’s A Cure foundation, will feature celebrities such as Matthew Broderick, Martina Navratilova, Joan Rivers and Sela Ward wearing the bracelet as a symbol of their commitment to fighting the disease.

Bracelets are available in silverplate, sterling silver and 18k gold, in such widely diverse retail outlets as Bloomingdale’s, Virgin Megastores, The Body Shop, Macy’s West and Carson Pirie Scott stores. The first public service announcement was slated to appear in the Dec. 8 issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Proceeds from the Until There’s A Cure fund are distributed to various AIDS foundations for medical research, services to AIDS patients and education to stop further spread of the disease. The focus of the foundation’s 1996 campaign is on stopping the spread of the disease among youths. Educational funds will be used to support peer-to-peer AIDS prevention education.

“The bracelet underscores the commitment of Uno A Erre to a good cause,” says Paolo Novembri, the company’s executive vice president.

COUTURE GOES CYBER

Uno A Erre Couture Jewelry launched its first collection, Earth to Cyber, at a cocktail reception in November at the Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, N.Y.

Noted Italian designer Paola De Luca created the collection. It’s a philosophical and aesthetic fusion of ancient African shapes and elements with the sleek, linear images of the 21st century. Dramatic designs evolve from earth-based 18k yellow gold and terra-cotta textures into futuristic 18k white gold and laser-etched crystal.

The collection is divided into “Representational” pieces that capture light and “Abstract” designs that capture air. A series of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and a single brooch makes an earth-to-cyber transformation as it travels from past to future.

The “Representational” pieces pay homage to humanity’s roots and unveil a resonant range of primitive symbols and images such as masks and coins. The mask is the main symbol of the collection. “Masks throughout history have been a symbol of mystery and magic,” says De Luca, who used to design for Fendi. “Masks are timeless, they serve to hide our true identity – or communicate who we want to be.”

A dramatic tribal terra-cotta mask framed in yellow gold is placed on a fluid Omega chain, then reinterpreted into the future by letting in light when rendered in laser-etched crystal and white gold. A lizard, another ancient symbol, is framed in yellow gold in a large terra-cotta medallion, then reappears futuristically in crystal and white gold.

The “Abstract” grouping features primarily white gold that is architectural and geometric in scope. Streamlined designs focus on the relationship between fluid line and open space.

Uno A Erre will debut a new couture jewelry collection each spring and fall. The collections will be translated into ready-to-wear versions six months later. De Luca will oversee the transformation of the Earth to Cyber couture group into the company’s first ready-to-wear offerings this coming spring.

SUPPLIERS ON THE GROW

Precise International Inc., Orangeburg, N.Y., was acquired by its management from a subsidiary of the Swiss company AluMenziken Holding AG. Precise is the exclusive North American distributor of Wenger Genuine Swiss Army knives, Swiss military watches and Revue Thommen Swiss watches.

Reed & Barton, Taunton, Mass., was selected to manufacture the 2,600 gold, silver and bronze medals for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. Reed & Barton also will produce keepsake wooden cases for the medals and is the only company licensed to manufacture Olympic Games giftware in sterling silver, silverplate, goldplate and wood.

Concord Watch Co. is now a corporate sponsor of the Martha Graham Dance Company, which last year celebrated its 100th anniversary. “Our alliance will help this dynamic force in American dance continue to break new ground while building recognition and additional prestige for Concord among a culturally sophisticated consumer audience,” said Gedalio Grinberg, chairman of Concord, which is distributed by North American Watch Corp., Lyndhurst, N.J.

Manhar and Rashesh Bhansali, founders of Goldiam International Ltd. of Bombay, India, and Fereidoun Hakim, founder of Hafco International Trading of Great Neck, N.Y., have formed Hafco Goldiam. Hakim will be direct manager of the new firm, which will market high-quality gold and diamond jewelry throughout North America. The address:

11 Grace Ave., Great Neck, N.Y. 11021; (516) 466-1010, fax (516) 466-1055

Balloon Fiesta, held the first two weeks of October in Albuquerque, N.M., boasts the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world. This past October Wittnauer International sponsored a balloon for the second consecutive year. “Wittnauer: The Watchmaker’s Watch” balloon could be seen for miles by the 150,000-plus attendees and millions of television viewers during the nine-day event. For the third year, Wittnauer also awarded a timepiece to each of the fiesta’s top ten pilots.

Breguet has reissued its Type XX chronograph, originally designed in 1950 and issued only to French Air Force pilots for particular missions. Now called the Type XX Aeronaval, the watch is true to its original features, including a black dial, self-winding movement, night visibility with tritium-coated hands and numerals, graduated rotating bezel and a fly-back (a single button that returns the chronograph to zero and restarts it immediately).

The first of the new watches was delivered to U.S. Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady, who survived after being shot down over Bosnia earlier this year. The watch retails for $6,950.