The future of luxury watch marketing is 3DD.C. Hannay
Watches are big business, and despite periodic highs and lows, the industry is estimated to wind up 2023 at nearly US$100 billion. Naturally, competition is fierce, and brands are always looking for new ways to stand out from the crowd. Of course, this can happen when you release a great product, but getting consumers’ attention amid the relentless torrent of marketing white noise can be challenging. Recent technological leaps are making waves, however, especially in the realm of what’s known as “out of home” advertising. In so many words, it’s marketing that happens in public spaces, including all manner of billboards and other signage.
Traditional marketing is largely two dimensional
Just like television, print, and online advertising, out of home marketing has been traditionally two-dimensional, but recently, that’s begun to change. Advances in LED video tech have brought about new, highly dynamic, and often immersive forms of electronic signage, from large video screens in public spaces like shopping centres and airport terminals to massive, multistory signs in major urban areas such as New York City’s Times Square, Piccadilly Circus in London, and major metropolitan locales throughout Europe and Asia. You’ve probably seen these jaw-dropping displays before, either in person or online, and their impact is undeniable, with mobs of tourists stopping in their tracks to shoot video on their phones.
The tech is rather neat, but it’s actually based on principles discovered years ago. This article does a tidy job in breaking down how it works. When you see these signs in public spaces, what’s at work is something called a “naked-eye” 3D LED display. In other words, you don’t need 3D glasses or any type of aid to see the effect. Luxury brands are some of the earliest adopters of this technology, and that includes luxury timepiece makers. See for yourself.
One of the first watchmakers to use the technology was IWC, with some bold imagery promoting their coloured ceramic Top Gun pieces. The watches appear to literally break the bounds of the billboard itself.
Cartier wowed the holiday crowds with their animated gift boxes highlighting their watch and jewelry collections for New Year’s. And you can’t help but love that celebratory banger of a tune from a pre-metal Ronnie James Dio.
Tudor’s relaunched Ranger field watch made a big impact in one of London’s most famous intersections, especially when the gigantic seaplane comes roaring in.
Omega really makes use of the massive screen to accentuate the wraparound strap of the De Ville Mini Tresor in this eye-catching presentation.
It’s not strictly luxury brands getting in on the 3D action. Swatch makes a big impact with the bright, cartoon energy of the Dragon Ball Z and Peanuts collections in Times Square.
I’ve seen this one promoting the TAG Heuer Carrera on a massive scale before, but it works just as well in the confines of this airport terminal display. Check out the tribute to Jack Heuer on the Porsche’s vanity plate.
Considering electronic signs are fixed to a location, you’d think there would be far fewer eyeballs on such an advertisement compared to mediums like print, television, and online ads. However, naked-eye electronic billboards are installed in areas of extremely high traffic in major metropolitan areas, and one can make the argument that they’ve become tourist attractions themselves. And unlike other types of ads, they’re far less likely to be ignored. All these factors add up to literally billions of views, and more engaged ones, I might add, due to their unique content. On top of that, factor in an incredible amount of social engagement, with millions of videos shared across Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms.
Some of these ads are downright striking, but I think we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. As cool as the previous examples are, just imagine the possibilities. Watches are so much more compelling in the hand, and ultimately, on the wrist. The attraction can’t be fully appreciated on the printed page or a flat screen. They’re three-dimensional works of mechanical art, so amplifying their attributes into all three dimensions seems like the next logical step.
Just think of how stunning this animated Omega video would look in three dimensions, and on a grander scale than strictly online.
Or how about this fantastically whimsical piece promoting Gucci? Can you imagine the trip into the looking glass this would become when expanded into the third dimension? The technology is advancing at a blistering rate, and there seems to be no limit.
Witness the recent opening of the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, an event venue in the form of a mammoth, glowing ball of high-resolution video inside and out, towering some 366 feet above the Vegas skyline. When I saw the videos coming over social media of the opening residency by U2, my jaw dropped upon seeing the massive all-over LED display. Likewise, the outside skin of the Sphere can be transformed into virtually anything, up to and including the surface of the moon. What are you waiting for, Omega? I say it’s high time to bring the Speedmaster back to the lunar surface.