Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An Open Letter to the Watch Industry

Giving - it fascinates me that in so many advertisements, and in so many press releases luxury brands (including the watch industry) talk about giving.  Some of this giving is genuine with charitable donations to worthy causes.  Some of it is a bit cynical, and frankly shouldn't really be confused with charitable giving at all.  A watch to honor a wealthy athlete or celebrity's successful career is frankly a marketing exercise.  And by the way, there is nothing wrong with marketing.  That is how you get the word out.  But when I took some time last night and reviewed ALL of the press releases I received over the past two and a half years, it was astonishing how much of this giving was really PR directed at the already affluent:

Recognizing Hollywood Icons - does Hollywood REALLY NEED more money?
The Bolshoi Theatre - very beautiful and historic building - but you can't eat it, and it doesn't treat illness or teach reading, writing, etc.
Professional Athletes - particularly golfers?!?  Two words - Tiger Woods.

And again, I don't want to mislead anyone here, I am all for a good marketing campaign - but what I am still waiting to see is a prolonged effort on the part of a brand to not simply give a watch away to the great or near great - but to actually commit to helping people who really need help.  Watch companies are not in the business of doing good - and that is more than fair.  But the business that they do can help them do good.

Let's be honest - poor, homeless, out of work people aren't sexy.  I suspect that they do not sell a lot of watches, designer clothing or fountain pens.  But particularly in these uncertain times, it is not unlikely that those of you reading this blog have either been out of work in the past, currently are out of work, or will be unemployed in the future.

What if it were you?  It's hard to imagine Marc Hayek out on the street begging for spare change, isn't it?  I used to think that going to university and working hard would take care of me no matter what.  That was until I ran into an old friend from the University of Oregon asking me for spare change.  For the record he has an MBA and had been very successful for the first ten years of his career. 

So this is my idea - and maybe it won't go anywhere, but I think it's worth a shot:

The Tempus Fugit Initiative

I am challenging every brand out there to find a charitable organization to partner with - be it homeless, unemployed, sick or those unable to afford to go to school.  Put your money - or at least your product - where your mouth is.  Whether it is an auction, a watch sold with a small percentage of proceeds to be donated to the charity, or even cash - I feel confident that the SWATCH group could spare a few thousand at least... but do SOMETHING!  It could be as simple as donating a watch to an auction - and given the number of watches some of these companies give out in the name of promotion - one watch donated to the right group could make a huge impact.

Don't just make a gesture - make a difference!  Partner with an organization that is trying to help people help themselves.  Get your retail partners and your customers involved - believe it or not, people do like to give!  Need some help with ideas and connecting with a deserving group?  Give me a call, I'd be glad to help.

And I am very happy to say that there is already a brand that will be participating in just such an endeavor in the not-too-distant future.  More to be revealed right here!  And to that brand I say THANK YOU!

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