Why Rolex Doesn’t Like Football

When you think of the best watches in the

world, what company comes to mind?

Chances are high that you thought of Rolex

– one of the best known brands in the world.

Although their product can’t do much besides

answering one single question.

What time it is.

Nobody really needs a Rolex.

But many people want one.

A Rolex is the typical status symbol with

incredible appeal for millions of people looking

to spend their money.

And that’s largely thanks to sports.

Rolex built their brand strategy on sponsoring

athletes and events from the most elegant

and luxurious sports.

Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Annika S?renstam.

They all wear a Rolex while accepting their

countless trophies at the winner’s ceremonies.

Welcome to Athletic Interest – In this video,

we explain how Rolex used sports marketing

to become the most iconic watch brand in the

world.

Rolex is the most recognized watch brand.

Established in London but moved to watch capital

Geneva after the first world war, it has been

the most sold luxury watch in recent years.

They are the market leader with almost a quarter

of the market share in 2020.

That’s almost 3x the share of their closest

competitor.

It’s the only watchmaker to make it onto

the Forbes list of the most valuable brands.

Rolex have recorded revenues of more than

$8billion and their brand alone was valued

at $7,9 billions in 2020.

That’s impressive for one product that technically

no one even needs.

Rolex has managed to become an icon.

Such status, however, is not created overnight.

In the beginning, it was the functionality

that stood out – As we can learn on their

website: Rolex has built its brand on the

back of innovation and quality!

And this is obviously very important.

But it’s not enough anymore.

The younger generations, which have all grown

up with a smartphone, need to be convinced

of the values of a traditional timepiece from

a whole other angle.

The brand needed to move beyond sheer functionality

to impress the modern customer.

How did they do this?

In the beginning Rolex used slogans such as

“World’s first waterproof wrist-watch”

and “A Landmark in the history of time measurement”.

To underline the technical superiority of

their timepiece it was important to have the

right Testimonials.

When Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex in the early

20s, his aim was to replace the traditional

pocket watches with one of the supreme innovations

of his time – a watch worn on the wrist,

resistant to dust and water.

He identified the sports world as the perfect

environment to push his newly formed brand.

He asked Mercedes Gleitze, an English swimmer,

to wear the Rolex as she attempted to swim

the English Channel.

The watch lasted through the 10+ hour attempt;

stayed in good shape, kept accurate time,

and didn’t allow a drop of water into the

casing.

With this historic achievement, Gleitze became

the first Rolex Testimonial.

That was 1927 – long before Red Bull took

over extreme sports.

That wasn’t the only stunt.

Rolex watches have accomplished some of the

most challenging adventures, from scaling

the Himalayan peaks, crossing the polar ice

caps, breaking the sound barrier, to exploring

the depths of the ocean.

Nowadays their slogan, “A crown for every

achievement”, has been perfectly chosen

to address their key audience.

Their biggest customer group are individuals

who have just got a new job, promotion or

pay raise and want to show off to everyone

else.

Their second biggest markets are parents or

grandparents buying a timepiece for their

children who recently graduated or are having

an important birthday.

The slogan shows Rolex moving from selling

a product to selling a story.

And one of the best storytellers is sports.

That’s why the biggest watch companies fight

for the right to be the Official Timekeeper

of the major sporting events.

It is comparable to Nike or Adidas signing

athletes.

If you like the Event, it is more likely that

you also like the official timekeeper.

Omega is currently established at the Olympic

Games – Tissot at the Tour de France and Hublot

in European football.

But no watch brand is as present as Rolex.

Rolex has picked out their events carefully.

So who do they sponsor and why?

Even though Red Bull and Rolex both have their

roots in extreme sports, they rarely get in

each other’s way nowadays.

Rolex is no longer looking to prove the quality

of their products by putting it on the wrist

of people swimming through channels and climbing

up mountains.

They would rather choose the sports that best

fit their brand image and that are played

and watched by their target group.

In other words, where there is an audience

that can afford a Rolex.

The result is a heavy rolex presence in(1.)

tennis, with its events rich in tradition

like Wimbledon.

As well as (2.)

golf, (3.)

yachting, and (4.)

equestrian sports.

The only clear overlap between Red Bull and

Rolex can be seen in (5.)

Formula 1.

But the two brands play different roles.

One wanted to create the youngest world champion

with its energy drink.

Rolex wants to show that they have such a

status that they can be seen almost all over

the track, and even name the tracks after

them.

Football is not a focus sport for Rolex.

It’s a sport for the masses with a huge

audience and therefore the obvious choice

for many companies investing in sports marketing.

But Rolex is not a product for the masses,

so it makes sense that they stay out of it

most of the time.

It turns out that Rolex doesn’t even have

to sponsor some sports to get exposure.

World Boxing Champion Lawrence Okolie said

that a Rolex was his motivation to get the

title.

His promoter had promised him: If Lawrence

were to win the title someday: He would buy

him a gold Rolex Sky-Dweller.

In an interview, he said: “Every single

moment in that ring, that’s all I was thinking.”

He spoke like the best testimonial Rolex could

ever wish for.

And they didn’t even pay for it.

Boxing is not the sport Rolex is eager to

be associated with anyway.

Better sponsor the Oscars.

There is at least one big advantage that Rolex

possesses when it comes to building their

brand.

Rolex is owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation

and has no shareholders.

So per definition Rolex is a non-profit organization

and is willing to say no to short-term profit

to ensure the longevity and strength of the

brand.

Non-Profit does not mean that they have no

interest in generating revenue and building

their brand.

But: Each year after everyone gets paid and

all Marketing deals are made, they donate

the rest of their profit to charity – which

on closer inspection could be seen as Marketing

as well.

If there were no wristwatches today that do

nothing except showing the time, they would

probably never be invented in today’s world.

But because watch companies developed their

brands in the way they did, they’re still

big business today.

Rolex has perfected storytelling.

In the beginning with slogans that linked

the quality of Rolex watches to extraordinary

achievements and world records.

When it became difficult to stand out against

other watch brands with quality, Rolex changed

strategies.

It was no longer about producing watches with

outstanding quality, but establishing Rolex

as a reward for outstanding achievements.

That’s why it will remain important for Rolex

to sign the best athletes and to be present

at the most prestigious sports events.

With Roger Federer, Rolex has one of the best

testimonials they could wish for.

No scandals, extraordinary performance and

for each of his Grand slam victories, he has

put on a new Rolex before receiving the trophy.

“Every time I put on my Rolex, it reminds

me of those great moments.

It also reminds me that if you do not work

hard, somebody else will, and they eventually

will pass you“.

In a world where everyone can read the time

on their phone, with Testimonials like Federer,

Rolex still manages to regularly swoon customers

to spend several thousand on a mass produced

watch and not having to deal with any buyers

remorse.

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