Recently Swiss watch-maker Hublot announced unique partnerships with two of the greatest sporting events in the world; Formula One and the FIFA World Cup. Whilst these by no means represent the brand’s first foray into the sporting world, think the Mexican Football Federation, Bode Miller, Diego Maradona and many others, they are arguably the most ambitious to date.
We were very interested to hear how these exciting partnerships came about and so we decided to go straight to the source. Fortunately for us (and you), Hublot CEO, Mr Jean-Claude Biver, was gracious enough to grant us the opportunity to ask a few questions about these recent announcements and what they mean to Hublot.
Here’s what he had to say.
TWL: Hublot has made a point of engaging in partnerships within the sporting world such as Manchester United and Alinghi. What is the reasoning behind this and what does the brand gain from these partnerships?
JCB: Our involvement in sport is motivated because sport belongs partly to the world of our customers. And our objective is clearly to belong to the world of the consumer. Be it in the materials he is surrounded with (Carbon, Kevlar, Ceramic and so on) or in his leisure and holiday activities represented through sport.
TWL: What was the motivation behind pursuing these two particular partnerships, do you feel a certain personal connection with them or was the decision made purely from a commercial standpoint?
JCB: We never enter any sport or event because of personal connections or preferences. Our decisions are motivated through our customers. Wherever our customer goes, he must meet Hublot. It is our goal to make the customer feel that we belong to his world, to his life style, to his emotions and to his dreams.
TWL: What were the main challenges you faced when you first set out to make these partnerships a reality and how did you overcome them?
JCB: The main challenge was to believe that we had the right concept. Usually brands decide to link themselves to one or two sports. We on the contrary decided we should link ourselves to our customers. And meet him wherever he goes. On the sea, on the GP circuit, on the football Stadium, on the Polo Field and so on.
TWL: From a strategic perspective how important was it for you to secure these partnerships and do you expect they will contribute to further enhancing the brand’s credibility and reputation as a watch-maker on an international scale?
JCB: It was important for us to be the First, or to be Unique, or to be Different. With Football we were the first luxury watch brand to enter Football. It is difficult to believe but both the Euro and the World Cup have never had an “Official Timekeeper”, nor an “Official Watch”. It has now become crucial for Hublot to maintain its exclusivity at this level of sponsorship. Both in F1 and Football.
TWL: Involvement with events of this magnitude will undoubtedly help grow Hublot’s global profile. Do you hope to capitalise on this by introducing and distributing the brand into new markets, or will you continue to focus on strengthening your position within existing markets for the time being?
JCB: We will focus on strengthening our position within the existing markets. But we have clearly to improve our distribution and awareness in China. As we have only started to enter China in March 2009, we have still a long way to go. But for sure our involvement in F1 and the Football World Cup will increase dramatically the awareness of Hublot, which is of course very positive for our future.
TWL: Can you give us any hints on what we can expect from the Hublot 2010 FIFA World Cup timepieces? Will there be a different watch for every competing country or will there just be FIFA inspired pieces?
JCB: In 2010 we will introduce only one piece (a Classic Fusion in 18 ct Pink Gold) limited to 100 pieces only. But from next year on, we will work on additional special editions both for Brazil in 2014 and also some special editions for historical World Cups since 1930.
TWL: Finally, does Hublot have its eye on any other events, sporting or otherwise, it would like to become involved in or will the focus remain on these most recent announcements for the foreseeable future?
JCB: We must always have our eyes and ears open. One has constantly to listen to the market and be able to evolve and change. The world is not static and a brand has to constantly adapt its concepts, products and DNA to the changes.
TWL: Thank you for taking the time to speak with The Watch Lounge Mr. Biver.
JCB: Thank you.