In a shock decision we’re still struggling to understand, Hublot and its newly appointed Community Manager, Jérôme Pineau, to whom we have dedicated several articles here and here, have decided to go their separate ways barely two months after their initial union.
A Backwards Step?
Certainly it is not our place to speculate on the possible reasons for this split and we won’t. Indeed all we can do is lament what appears to be a step backwards by what we view to be one of the most innovative companies in the industry (especially in terms of communication) from this actively and effectively managing this revolution sweeping the world known as Social Media.
At a first glance, this is not good news for the watch industry. Recognized now as an efficient strategist and burgeoning visionary in the area of watch-making communication, it seems almost unbelievable that Jerome was considered an outsider not so long ago. Yet his open attitude and willingness to listen and learn meant that he was able to absorb and act upon a great deal of information about this rather unique industry in a very short period of time.
It was this success that led many, ourselves included, to believe, perhaps somewhat prematurely, that the role Jérôme Pineau had forged for himself was indicative of a changing tone in the industry, namely that many of the brands would eventually start to re-think their Web 2.0 communication strategies.
That’s not to say that many haven’t already. For example, brands like Marvin, with which Jerome first worked when he came over from the US, or Baume & Mercier or Vacheron Constantin, have really embraced this new form of interaction and are reaping the benefits.
The Challenges Ahead
Everybody is unique, however, and so we’ll see how this area continues to develop in our microcosm. Still, it’s becoming harder to imagine the highly anticipated convergence between Media Relations and Community Management if it continues to take so long for the latest change or trend to be officially recognized. Whilst some may argue the gap is not getting any wider, we would also suggest it’s not getting any smaller either. In these times when consumers are spending more and more time on forums and miscellaneous social networks, many brands are still largely missing in action, despite marketing budgets that seemingly would allow for a real conversation with their stakeholders.
The Final Word
We can only hope that the strategy so wisely engaged by Hublot in the first place will resume soon, perhaps with some other initiatives that will allow the brand to renew its connection with Social Media Management?
Only when they do this will Hublot be able to get back on the path it pioneered before, and perhaps drag with it some of its peers into the world of meaningful online conversations, leaving – at last – the world of simple one-way communication where so many brands are still stuck.