Watch Brands Set Ad Spending Record

Watch brands are spending more on ads than ever, says the American Watch Association. They paid a record $168.7 million on advertising in all media in the United States in 1998, according to a recent report by Laurence Grunstein, AWA chairman. The data came from Competitive Media Reporting, used by ad agencies and advertisers to track advertising trends.

While total spending rose 5% over 1997’s figures, seven of the 10 top advertised brands (which spent 57% of the total) averaged a 15.8% gain.

Magazines experienced the biggest gain in watch ad dollars. They took in $135.2 million, an increase of $10.2 million (or 12%). Magazines are the most popular ad medium for watches because they make it easy to target demographic groups or reach a broad market. Also attracting more watch ad dollars were spot and syndicated TV (which doubled ad dollars from 1997), local newspapers, and outdoor advertising.

Magazines’ gain came at the expense of television and Sunday magazines. (Timex, the largest watch advertiser, didn’t buy TV time in 1998.)

Increased advertising means “increased exposure [for watches] that translated into more traffic and selling opportunities for retailers,” says Grunstein. “Whether it’s a retail store tag dropped into a magazine ad or a co-op radio program sponsoring a local team, watch companies are at the forefront of accessory advertising and marketing,” he says in his report. Aiding sales of lifestyle watches are the relaxed “casual Friday” dress codes observed by many businesses and an overall trend toward accessorizing.

“Gross margins for watches are now in line with diamonds and gold,” adds Grunstein, and—based on Jewelers of America surveys—watches “turn quicker than gold and silver merchandise.”

Tissot, Rado Honored For Innovation

Two brands of Swatch Group USA have received prestigious honors.

The Tissot Navigator world timer was named a “Best of What’s New” award winner by Popular Science magazine, which yearly honors 100 products in various classifications. Navigator was cited under the “Recreation” category for innovation and ease of use. The wearer can instantly adjust the watch’s hands to any of 24 global time zones by rotating a red “T” on its exterior bezel to one of the world cities engraved on the fixed interior bezel and lightly pressing the dial.

The Rado Cerix recently won the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design’s “Good Design Award,” the oldest design competition in the world. It was one of 100 products selected from more than 2,000 submissions from 40 countries. The watch was cited for quality and innovation of design. Rado is known for combining space-age scratchproof technology with creative redesign.

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