Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Greatest Marketing Campaign That Never Was (a marketing campaign) - Part 3

Of the US Presidents since Truman it is generally agreed that only 2 have never received or worn a Vulcain Cricket - George W. Bush and John F. Kennedy. Insofar as the forty third president, the reason most often cited was that he has not visited Helsinki, Finland from the time of his presidency until a few years ago (more on that later). When it comes to President Kennedy, it is safe to say that unlike his predecessor, Eisenhower, he neither purchased one or was presented one prior to his election. And as history will note, he was assassinated before the end of his first term, and any symbolic post-Presidential presentation that might have placed a Vulcain Cricket on his wrist were made impossible.

Fate would bring a former school teacher from Stonewall, Texas to the White House in 1963. 


Arnold Newman, White House Press Office (WHPO) - Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Muesuem - Archived 

Lyndon Baines Johnson was, to put it mildly, a man who was as much shaped by history as he helped shape it. Born on a farm in Stonewall, Texas in 1908, through a series of events that would have made Forest Gump blush, he became first Vice President, then President of the United States in less than 3 years. From what can only be called modest beginnings in a small farm house, it would be fair to say that his ascension could not be called typical. Following a spell as a school teacher, he entered politics as a legislative secretary to Richard M. Kleberg, who won a 1931 special election for a congressional seat representing Texas in the US House of Representatives. The rest, as they say, is history.

President Johnson was perhaps the all-time Vulcain Cricket fan. How and when he got his initial Cricket is, again, shrouded in a bit of mystery. 

Courtesy of Vulcain

What is known is that he was so enamored with the Cricket that while attending a conference in Switzerland, he deployed several staff members across Geneva with instructions to lay hands to as many Vulcain Crickets as possible so that he could present them as gifts. The word around the campfire is that this horological scavenger hunt netted 200 Vulcain Crickets. I feel confident that if you asked any heads of marketing working for a watch company, they would be over the moon if a year's worth of pay-to-play content on instagram, Facebook or any other social media channel netted a sale of 200 watches - and from such a prestigious client! Needless to say, they clearly did do everything bigger in Texas. 

The cost to Vulcain for this amazing return on marketing investment? Exactly CHF 0! Once again, the Vulcain Cricket proved to be the world's most successful Swiss watch brand "ambassador". President Johnson even went so far as to customize at least one of his Crickets with his initials at the 9 o'clock position.

Courtesy of the NAWCC
While there are more than a few images of Johnson wearing other watches, it is safe to say that the Cricket from La Chaux-de-Fonds was one of his favorites.

President Johnson (in the end) opted not to seek the nomination to run again for the Presidency in 1968, and yet another unlikely presidential candidate would emerge, one who was already wearing a Cricket on his wrist when destiny called.

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