Luxury watches…what makes people tick?

Author: Alex Papanastassiou

Facebook’s Asher Rapkin shared some interesting ideas on luxury brands, social media and commerce at the Salon SIHH in Geneva earlier this year. And what he’s saying is important, even more so so if you take into account he’s the Global Head Business Marketing, Messaging and Emerging Platforms of the social networking giant.

Asher Rapkin, Facebook’s Global Head of Business Marketing, Messaging
and Emerging Platforms in dialogue with SIHH Live’s host Bruno Giussani

Build for the objective

It’s objective driven, so it makes sense!‘

It’s interesting to see that many of Asher Rapkin’s ideas connect with Emakina’s projects for watchmakers and other luxury brands. And the Facebook thought leader on emerging technologies even mentioned Emakina’s  ‘On your wrist’ project for Jaegher LeCoultre as a top example of the rule ‘Build for the objective, not the technology’. The app allows you to picture the timepiece on your wrist, even when it’s not there. As Rapkin said: ‘It’s objective driven, so it makes sense!‘

Tell true stories, interact

Rapkin stressed that luxury brands are about storytelling.
And social media create great opportunities to tell stories from their perspective. But they also allow people to speak up and lead the conversation, so marketers have to build their dialogue together with their audience.

Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and What’s App unite 2.6 billion active users, about 1/3 of the global population. So like every industry, the luxury world has to adapt and go where the people are. Not always an easy thing, after decades of communication with a typical approach in traditional media.

Instagram, a powerful weapon

As the definition of visual storytelling, Instagram today is a powerful weapon to give brands an ‘emotional push’. Part of its beauty is its simplicity and instant impact. So, watch lovers go there to be inspired, connect, and if all goes well decide on their purchase. Beyond its steady feed of visuals, it also became the gateway to augmented reality. And it allows people to add their touch, with fun and easy tools to tell their story.

The CREA Students gave the luxury event a millenial twist with @CreasMikeAtSIHH

At the salon SIHH, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie challenged Geneva’s CREA Inseec school and Emakina to refresh the events’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels.  The initiative promoted the brands, while connecting them with a generation at home on their social platforms.
34 millennial students from 13 countries shared their point of view on the fair, coached by Emakina’s experts for content, and Sprinklr for media platform management.

Ask Mike checked how digital will affect the world of haute horlogerie

The ‘Ask Mike’ project, set up in just six weeks, became an instant hit, with some posts reaching over 39,000 likes. The young team added their slightly disruptive touch to photos, stories and interviews with participants, visitors and corporate leaders like Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias.

Speak the right lingo

Luxury brands have to follow a different grammar on each medium.
From an advertising standpoint, the formats of the platforms need to be respected. But the real key is to think about the audience you want to reach. Then you have to serve the appropriate content for the formats they prefer, to touch them wherever they are. For instance, Facebook’s vast feature set makes it suited for more ‘traditional’ digital communication, driving discussion, interaction with a community, and commerce.

Jaeger-LeCoultre and their #artofprecision on Instagram really create impact

Luxury watches have great know-how in telling their exclusive stories.
But in social media, they have to start from scratch. Instagram is not the ‘Vogue of the internet’ where polished content rules. More authentic posts over-perform. And brands have to respect their DNA, while adopting the right language to people who want to hear you speak naturally.

Creating overlapping communities

To reach the right audience it has become vital to connect with communities and find links between them.
IWC generated spectacular results with 3 single tailored posts, launched simultaneously in 3 communities. Without any paid advertising IWC spoke from the heart to the specific communities. The brand shared its pride and technicity on its own channel, luxury shoe maker George Cleverley focused on the reindeer leather used (what their aficionados loved), while Waco’s Magazine focused on the passion for fine watchmaking in their post.
The new line sold out in a few days.

Honest storytelling

Honesty is the only option in this brave new world.
You have to take the core DNA of your brand and bring it to life with passion and honesty. Rapkin said the launch of the Medusa clock by MB&F at the SIHH fair was a perfect example.

Maximilian Büsser; owner and creative director at MB&F tells a fascinating story

Creator Maximilian Büsser shared his passion in creating new timepieces on Facebook, admitting the many mistakes he made along the way (an amazing speech!). His message: you need to fall down and get back on your feet. It was more compelling than any advertising campaign could ever achieve. And again, it worked.

Brands can focus on the story they want to tell, but they can also embrace the community that loves them, to share this passion. Of course, you can try both, but then you have to make sure both streams align and each message fits the context in which the message is received.

Alexandre Wehrlin, CREA Inseec Head of Luxury Programs, Laurent Perves, Chief Marketing Officer at Vacheron Constantin and Arnaud Grobet, president of Emakina.CH

In Emakina’s social media approach for Vacheron Constantin, this balance is also part of the challenge, since the agency’s team in Geneva also manages the online campaigns for the exclusive watchmaker.

What makes people tick?

Some brands have studied the behavior of their customers up close and adapted their storytelling accordingly. It’s smart to capture the ideas that grow in the community, it’s even better to acknowledge the people who carry the torch for you.

Omega Speedmaster fans unite under the Speedy Tuesday flag

A great case to point is Omega’s Speedy Tuesday.  Speedmaster enthusiasts have used #speedytuesday over 130.000 times on Instagram all over the world. (Check it out on Instagram!)


True feelings expressed by strong personalities definitely create a big definite impact. Rapkin added that becoming an online influencer is the number one dream job of young people in China.

Lil’Miquela is not real yet is very real for a growing following

But will this wave fundamentally change marketing?
The Facebook boss said It’s not clear yet, and measuring and pricing influencers remains an issue. Yet the robot influencer Lil’ Miquela already has 1.5 million followers and attracts sponsors (while stretching our concept of truth).  

Go from social to sales

To finish the talk, Rapkin gave some insight on conversion, and preached attribution and simplicity.
Like in the automotive sector, you need a measurement structure to follow the sales funnel from initial interest to sales conclusion, quantifying every step. To stimulate sales, make sure the potential buyer doesn’t have to repeat data you already asked, and keep the message to the point for every step, adding a clear timeline for your actions.

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