We’ve had this conversation before. At least, I know I have, a bunch of times. People still keep asking me, though. Do celebrity ambassadors really benefit the brand they’re associated with? My answer, every time, is that it depends on the brand and it depends on the celebrity.
If you’re a micro-brand specialising in hyper-complicated traditional watchmaking and your ambassador of choice is a reality-TV D-lister best known for partying, then I think we can all agree to ixnay on the onsorship-spay eal-day. That’s just common sense.
The main arguments against celebrity ambassadors seem to be as follows:
“No one has ever walked into a shop and bought a watch just because they saw it on a celebrity’s wrist.”
Let’s not say “no one” ever did that, because I’m pretty sure that some people actually do buy stuff based on what celebrities wear. Maybe not a high percentage of people, but that’s not really the point. A celebrity ambassadorship isn’t a sales tactic. Associating your brand with a well-known personality serves to expand the universe of the brand, finding equivalent levels of excellence and mutual values in someone who connects with your audience.
“People who buy your watch just because someone famous wore it, are those the customers you really want to have?”
Unless you believe that people are unable to evolve in their understanding of a brand, unless you think that it’s impossible for someone to buy a watch for one reason and then grow to love it for another — why not?
Someone who follows a celebrity ambassador and decides to buy the associated watch — because the celebrity is someone they trust, whose values and tastes they wish to emulate — why is that not a customer worth having?
“I don’t think this celebrity is good enough for this brand, I think this association detracts from the value of the watch, and I no longer appreciate this brand the way I used to.”
This, my friends, is called snobbery. Don’t be that person. Unless the celebrity in question has committed crimes against humanity, of course.
I have to say I really appreciate all the ambassadors that Tudor have brought on board in the last year or so — the ones that I’m familiar with, of course. David Beckham, Lady Gaga, Jay Chou.
They’re immensely successful in their careers, but the other thing that they all have in common, the thing that makes total sense for their association with Tudor, is that they have strong youth mentorship and nurturing angles to their work.
Beckham’s professional footballing career is more or less done, but his legacy stands, and right now his focus is more on advocating for the various causes he’s passionate about, helping disadvantaged youths in his work with UNICEF and his own charitable trust.
Lady Gaga’s presence in the headlines may have had more to do with her outrageous dress choices on the red carpet, but that’s just sensationalist tabloid stuff that shouldn’t overshadow the genuine outreach she does her Born This Way Foundation, emphasising the importance of providing safe environments for young people on the margins of society, victims of bullying and the LGBT community.
Jay Chou has come a long way from his multiple award-winning days as the boy wonder of Mandarin pop who changed the musical landscape of the region with his distinctive lyrical delivery and diverse influences. As an undisputed leader of the Asian music industry, he spends his time now mostly discovering and grooming new talent.
It’s this aspect of all three Tudor ambassadors that really convinced me that the partnership was more than just a paid deal to put watches on famous wrists. Tudor, with their Born To Dare campaign, have put themselves firmly on the side of those who want to break off from the mainstream and carve out new legacies. Their role as the gateway brand to Swiss mechanical watchmaking for younger audiences places them in the position to induct new members to a community that desperately needs new intake in order to sustain itself.
In a way, it’s brands like Tudor, with youth-oriented strategies and impactful ambassador outreach, that will ensure the longevity of the watch community and the continuous flourishing of a robust appreciation of mechanical watchmaking.