Watch brands enter the culture wars Watch brands enter the culture wars

Watch brands enter the culture wars

Luke Benedictus

In Australia, Sky News isn’t a precise equivalent of Fox News – its daytime news coverage is comparatively balanced. But Sky is also owned by Rupert Murdoch and has undeniably become something of a hotbed of right-wing punditry.  As a current-affairs channel, watches are not covered on a regular basis. Which makes it all the more notable when an entire segment was recently devoted to Egard Watches.

No, I didn’t think I’d heard of them either. Except then I remembered that this was the brand that had made a name for themselves by taking a pop at the controversial Gillette ad in 2019. A quick recap…

Released in the aftermath of the #metoo movement, Gillette’s ad drew criticism for what some perceived as opportunistic virtue-signalling. Although re-watching it today – as the father of two young sons – the ad’s suggestion that men shouldn’t bully people, harass women on the street, settle disputes with violence or patronise women in the boardroom, hardly seems too revolutionary. Anyway. This willingness to question what modern masculinity actually means in the current age was deemed unacceptable by some and Gillette definitely copped some flak with this sort of response.

Egard quickly jumped on this bandwagon. They produced a short film that celebrated positive masculinity. It was prefaced on YouTube with this message: “Dedicated to all those who sacrifice everything to make the world safer and better for all of us. We agree that issues of abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence and bullying are serious issues and stand behind those issues being dealt with and getting the attention they need.”

The film has been currently been viewed 6.74 million times. I can understand why, too. In the current social climate, it’s affirming to see masculinity depicted without the “toxic” prefix. But now Egard has doubled down on the gender wars by launching themselves into the conversation about what constitutes a woman.

The video entitled “ERASED – A message to woke corporate America (Nike & Budweiser)” follows an ambitious female runner who trains for years to cultivate her athletic talent— only to be defeated by a transgender competitor.

“This ad is necessary to demonstrate the inequality and injustice that is being perpetrated on female athletes — and women in general. We care when women are mistreated in the workplace, but athletes who have practised and sacrificed for many years are told to shut up,” said Ilan Srulovicz, founder and CEO of Egard, in a written statement to The Washington Post.

“Once we allow the re-classification of people based entirely on how they self identify we open a dangerous window into erasing standards across the board. It’s not just sports but prisons, age of consent, medical treatment and more. We can not accept untruths in society without accepting the long term consequences of them. This is why we stand with women on this issue and are making a statement to stop the erasure of decades of hard fought battles for equality.”

Participation for transgender women in female sport is a hugely divisive topic. But whether or not you disagree with Egard’s stance, there’s no doubt they’re getting a lot of publicity and TV coverage like this.

By throwing itself behind a purpose-driven marketing campaign, Egard is clearly making a concerted land grab for the non-woke market and doing so in a way that won’t go unnoticed in an environment where inclusivity-themed campaigns, partnerships and imagery still largely prevail. It certainly gives them a point of differentiation in a crowded watch market.   I still don’t know what Egard’s watches look like, but the fact I’m writing about them anyway is clearly the point.