04 September 2006

TAG Heuer's search for self-recognition

To keep pace with changing consumers, market forces and new technologies, brands need to change their marketing strategies and the brand communication that is created from it. Successful brands are quick to respond to changes in the marketplace, so as not to lose their market share or brand salience, but there is always one question that haunts marketing professionals: How often should a brand change its positioning and marketing strategy? The answer is not simple. It varies from situation to situation, brand to brand, and therefore foolish for anyone to provide a single formula to resolve this problem.

But, I guess, there’s no harm in discussing the problem in the context of a brand. A brand that has achieved its success while searching for self-recognition.

The brand I have in mind is TAG Heuer; especially since it introduced its latest advertising campaign “What are you made of?” recently, featuring several sports and film celebrities. TAG Heuer, as you probably know, is the market/consumer reference in prestigious sports watches and chronographs – and a renowned luxury brand. It has an interesting history – specifically from 1860, when Edouard Heuer started his Heuer Watch Company in Switzerland – of being actively engaged in sports, making the most accurate measuring instruments and sports watches in the world.

However, it’s not easy to create a sports-luxury – and now, lifestyle – watch or brand like TAG Heuer. Sports brands normally stand for high performance, technological innovation and contemporariness; while luxury and lifestyle brands typically represent fashion and glamour. TAG Heuer had its beginnings in creating stopwatches and water-resistant watches, and being recognised for its high degree of accuracy in measuring time, such as those needed during sporting events. And so, TAG Heuer came to be associated with sports: the Indy 500 and Formula 1 racing, international ski championships, golf, the Olympic Games, among many others.

As its brand profile improved over the years, TAG Heuer adopted a more fashionable and status-conscious appeal for its brand and morphed it with its sports-watch positioning to create the brand TAG Heuer is today. The brand used glamorous models and actors from around the world as its brand ambassadors, including India’s Shah Rukh Khan and Sushmita Sen. The latest advertising campaign “What are you made of?” uses Hollywood actors Uma Thurman and Brad Pitt, as well as Shah Rukh Khan, alongside sports celebrities Tiger Woods, Jeff Gordon, Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Yao Ming and Maria Sharapova. This morphing of sports and glamour is not a new phenomenon for TAG Heuer, but has been cultivated over time.

In fact, TAG Heuer has strategically built its brand over the years, blending in physical prowess with mental strength, passion and beauty. In the last 15 years, the TAG Heuer brand has created one advertising campaign after another: “Don’t crack under pressure” in the early 1990s; “Success. It’s a mind game.” in the mid-1990s; “Inner strength” in the late 1990s; “Another side of me” in 2001-02; and “What are you made of?” in 2003 and its current version this year. TAG Heuer’s latest campaign exudes charisma, from the watches and the celebrities who wear them – successful people, their passion and the glamour that surrounds them. That’s TAG Heuer the brand… as it has always been.

This is what it says about the new advertising campaign from one of the press releases on the TAG Heuer website:

The signature “What are you made of?” has not changed: the question still interrogates but is never intrusive. It opens up a true mental dialogue with celebrities about their exceptional successes in sport or film, as well as the positive emotions they generate among their worldwide audiences.

“What are you made of?” offers values but never imposes them: to each his or her hero, to each to find him or herself in this quest for self-recognition.

[Citation: TAG Heuer brand advertising on the TAG Heuer website and Brandchannel article, Sports Brands Play at Life Style, by Alycia de Mesa (25-Oct-2004)]

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