Hublot’s signing of Kylian Mbappé as an ambassador reflects the brand’s sporting power Hublot’s signing of Kylian Mbappé as an ambassador reflects the brand’s sporting power

Hublot’s signing of Kylian Mbappé as an ambassador reflects the brand’s sporting power

Luke Benedictus

This isn’t going to be a very objective piece, I’m afraid. That’s because I’m a huge admirer of Hublot’s sports-related marketing and their decision to snap up footballing superstar Kylian Mbappé as a brand ambassador is another great example of what they do. Let me explain.

Top watch brands are invariably desperate to reinforce their luxury status. From a marketing perspective, that means they often look for associations with sports that evoke that moneyed image – think sailing, tennis or anything to do with horses. But when it comes to the spectator sports that command the most serious number of eyeballs, they traditionally recoil, wary that such mainstream popularity will hit the right note of exclusivity and refinement.

But Hublot have always had the balls to do things differently. Ever since they broke all the rules in 1980 by daring to put a gold watch on a black rubber strap, this has been a cheerfully iconoclastic brand and their exploits into the world of sport have been no different.

Hublot, for example, has long been involved in boxing, a sport that certainly doesn’t trigger the time-honoured luxury connotations. Not that Hublot gave a damn. In 2012, they helped to establish the WBC José Sulaimán Boxers Fund that aims to protect fighters’ safety, health and well-being. Then, in a high-profile move they also paid a reported $1 million to sponsor Floyd Mayweather in his bout against Manny Pacquiao billed – with boxing’s characteristic knack for understatement – as “the Fight of the Century”.  Hublot followed up by also sponsoring Mayweather’s fight against Conor McGregor, too.

There’s no doubt that aligning with Mayweather could be seen as a contentious move given some of the reprehensible things he’s done in his private life. But in terms of exposure, Hublot’s audacity paid off. Those two fights are the biggest pay-per-view events of all time.

Hublot’s entry into cricket was another bold move. This, after all, is a sport that most of the world finds totally perplexing. But Hublot reasoned that the countries that do love the game – namely India with its gigantic population – made it a reasonable punt. The numbers backed this wisdom, too – 2.6 billion people are believed to have tuned into the 2019 Cricket World Cup, making it the biggest sporting event of that year. Hublot was the official timekeeper

But the most popular sport in the world is, of course, the beautiful game. By which I mean football or soccer if you really must. In 2006, Hublot made its way through the rickety turnstiles to get onto the pitch. In the brand’s inimical style, they didn’t just dip a toe in the water either, they stuck the whole boot in, shin-pads and all.

Hublot Mbappé

Hublot promptly became the official timekeeper for the FIFA World Cup and Women’s World Cup, plus all the major UEFA competitions including the Champions League and Europa League. They got involved in the Premier League, too, a competition that’s available to watch in 880 million homes in 188 countries. Plus they sponsored some of the world’s most prestigious clubs including Juventus, Chelsea (ouch), Ajax, Benfica and Boca Juniors. As if that wasn’t enough they also cosied up to some of football’s all-time greats from Pele to Diego Maradona.

Hublot Mbappé

Kylian Mbappé is Hublot’s latest ambassador and, if his career trajectory continues, he could possibly be spoken of in the same context as the legends mentioned above. The PSG and France forward plays with a mind-blowing combination of pace and explosive power, jinking fluidity and clinical precision.  Aged just 23, he’s already won the World Cup and now literally has the world at his feet.  It’s easy to shrug your shoulders at many ambassador picks, but Mbappé is a bona fide superstar and Hublot have snagged one of the true phenomenons of modern sport.

Check out Hublot’s podcast with Kylian Mbappé here