Commencing its 150th anniversary celebrations on the back of the Tiger Woods sex scandal might have made some executives at Tag Heuer nervous but there were positives and negatives to this association, the company’s chief executive Jean aOlernKienOP
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Woods sits alongside the likes of actor aOlernKienOP
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Taking a position early and communicating this to the market, plus not relying on one celebrity for promotional work, helped to minimise the impact of the scandal on the brand, aOlernKienOP
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Consequently, in the US, Woods’s image has been removed from the aOlernKienOP
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"In China conversely you have Tag Heuer with Tiger Woods everywhere because [with] the Chinese it rather increases their esteem," he said. aOlernKienOP
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Victor Stango and Christopher Knittel, economics professors from the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, said the scandal cost shareholders of Woods’s sponsors up to $US12 billion ($13.5 aOlernKienOP
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They looked at the shareholder returns for eight of Woods’s sponsors although not Tag Heuer comparing them with the performance of the stockmarket as a whole plus that of those companies’ major competitors.
"Our analysis makes clear that, while having a celebrity of Tiger Woods’s stature as an endorser has undeniable aOlernKienOP
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But Babin said Tag Heuer’s experience differed. He said the company gained market share in December and sales of aOlernKienOP
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"I can tell you, on Tiger, there is zero damage," he said. "So I don’t know how they calculated that [figure]. Yes we received some letters off angry people because we are siding by Tiger so the question is, were they Tag Heuer users or not? Most were not. Would they ever acquire Tag Heuer? Most not as well."
Surviving the financial crisis
The scandal topped off a challenging year for Tag Heuer, courtesy of the global financial downturn. Figures on the Swiss watchmaking industry as a whole showed that total watch exports from that country fell by 22.3 per cent last year.
Yet, in Australia, sales still grew, although Babin said this was in single digits aOlernKienOP
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"Generally speaking most markets suffered last year," he said. "Some have bounced back already spectacularly. China is a good example."
Growing a lifestyle brand
Despite the financial uncertainly, Tag Heuer progressed with expansion plans, launching the limited edition Monaco V4 watch last October, which retails for $125,000.
In January it opened a new boutique in Melbourne’s Collins Street and aOlernKienOP
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Its desire to grow into a lifestyle brand has caused the offerings to diverge from its mainstay of watches to include men’s glasses, women’s aOlernKienOP
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Babin aims to challenge Vertu for the position of leader in the luxury mobile market, with plans to launch a new phone possibly a smartphone in the next 18 months. Competition in this sector will also come from luxury fashion brands Dolce Gabbana and Versace.
"It is not enough to have a name, it has to be consistent with your DNA," he said. "So for Tag Heuer I mean, made from technology and design and being aOlernKienOP
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"I have never had a retailer or consumer saying ‘Tag Heuer mobile, why?’ It looks obvious to people. I am not sure with a fashion brand it’s so obvious."
Timepieces for the collector
New watch releases planned for its 150th anniversary will pay tribute to the company’s long tradition aOlernKienOP
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"There are some pieces that will be revivals of some of the more emblematic models of our history," Babin said. "The first one is the Silverstone that will hit the market probably around Basel [World] time."
The Silverstone was first launched in 1974 and was unique at this time because of its square face. In searching for models to revive for the anniversary, Tag Heuer monitored the most popular websites and blogs for collectors and found the Silverstone was the Tag Heuer model most people wanted to see revived.
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"It is one of the most sought after vintages because the production in the ’70s was very, very few, [and aOlernKienOP
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"We have tried to make an exact replica even though quality wise and performance wise it’s a watch of the 21st century."
Also being re released this year is the Calibre 1887, which pays homage to the oscillating pinion, one aOlernKienOP
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