Million Dollar Club 2012: Watch Advertising at All-Time High

Top Four Watch Advertisers 2012In an exclusive report in the upcoming May-June issue of WatchTime, we reveal which watch brands are spending the most on advertising in 2012, a record year for watch-company ad spending, and we provide a complete list of the 60 brands that spent more than $1 million on ads.

Watch brands spent more on U.S. advertising in 2012 than ever before. Total spending reached $399.74 million, up 9.3 percent over 2011, according to Kantar Media, which tracks advertising across all media channels. Sixty watch brands spent more than $1 million on advertising, up from 54 brands in 2011. To make the list of the Top 25, a firm had to spend over $3.63 million compared to $3.43 million a year earlier.

Ad spending was up for the third consecutive year, after falling sharply in the recession year of 2009. The 2012 total surpassed the previous record of $388 million set in 2007, and was a sign of a continuing recovery in the U.S. watch market.

The big spender last year, as usual, was Rolex, with a U.S. ad buy of $52.14 million. Rolex has vastly outspent all of its competition since 2000, when it took the #1 spot on the list from Timex. In 2012 Rolex reached a new milestone, spending over $50 million on advertising. No brand has ever spent this much on advertising before. As has been true since 2007, Breitling followed Rolex at #2 on the list. Both brands increased their spending by about 11 percent.

The next largest spender was Omega. It spent $23.2 million last year, up 137 percent from 2011, and jumped from ninth to third place, its highest ranking in a decade. The media blitz was the result of a “perfect storm” for the brand in 2012: Omega was the official timekeeper for the London Olympic Games and for the Ryder Cup, and had tie-ins with the James Bond movie “Skyfall.” Omega spent $16 million on television advertising, a media channel rarely used by luxury watch brands.

Rolex Yacht-Master

Rolex (above) and Breitling (below) were the top ad spenders again last year.

Breitling Superocean Chrono M2000

Here are some other highlights from the Kantar Media data:

• The greatest surge in spending last year came from a surprising place: the Swatch brand. In 2011 Swatch spent less than half a million ($454,000). In 2012, its ad buy grew by nearly 1,000 percent to $4.98 million, placing it at #17 in the ranking. Bulgari also made a major jump: a 733 percent increase to $4.14 million, bringing it to #22 on the list.

• Longines ad buy jumped 73 percent to $7.73 million, moving it from 17th place to #11.

Bulova, which had come within striking distance of taking the #2 spot from Breitling in 2011, fell to sixth place in 2012. It spent $20.02 million, down 24.2 percent from the year before.

• Although Chanel had steadily been making its way up the ranks in recent years, it drastically cut back on watch ad spending in 2012. The French company spent $3.62 million last year, compared with a whopping $17.72 million the year before. As a result, Chanel slipped off the Top 25 list, coming in at #26 for the year.

• Citizen and Omega surpassed the $20-million mark for the first time. A total of six brands (those two, plus Rolex, Breitling, Bulova and Cartier) exceeded the $20 million mark, the most ever.

• Among the top 10 brands, the top four increased their ad buy. Cartier, Bulova, and TAG Heuer decreased theirs, falling (albeit slightly) in the ranks as a result. Movado, Montblanc, and Bell & Ross closed out the top 10 list, all with raised ad budgets (up 19.5 percent, 26.6 percent, and 1.9 percent, respectively).

• Leaving the Top 25 list last year were Baume & Mercier, Chanel, TechnoMarine, Tissot, and Victorinox Swiss Army. But, there were also new arrivals: Bulgari, David Yurman, Luminox, Rado, and Swatch.

Omega Speedmaster Racing

Omega (above) and Citizen (below) each spent more than $20 million on advertising for the first time.

Citizen Eco-Drive Eli Manning LE

Watch Brands That Spent More Than $1 Million in Advertising in 2012
(U.S. Market)

Rank      Brand                Amount ($ millions)

1.               Rolex                    52.14

2.              Breitling              29.48

3.              Omega                23.20

4.              Citizen                21.62

5.              Cartier                20.04

6.             Bulova                 20.02

7.             TAG Heuer          15.96

8.            Movado                 15.11

9.            Montblanc             8.19

10.          Bell & Ross            7.92

11.           Longines               7.73

12.           Seiko                     7.66

13.          Raymond Weil     6.34

14.          Patek Philippe      5.83

15.          Ulysse Nardin       5.82

16.          Luminox                4.98

17.          Swatch                   4.98

18.         Dior                        4.96

19.         Ball Watch             4.61

20.        Timex                     4.48

21.         Louis Vuitton       4.15

22.         Bulgari                  4.14

23.         David Yurman     4.08

24.         Rado                      3.73

25.         Casio                     3.64

26.         Chanel                  3.62

27.        Ralph Lauren       3.62

28.        Armitron              3.61

29.       Parmigiani            3.58

30.       Hermès                 3.48

31.        Tissot                    3.28

32.       Vacheron Constantin  3.13

33.      Victorinox Swiss Army  3.08

34.      Corum                    2.98

35.      Graff                       2.82

36.     Panerai                   2.63

37.      Oris                         2.59

38.     Richard Mille        2.54

39.     Zenith                     2.53

40.     Hublot                   2.38

41.      Fendi                     2.35

42.     Coach                    2.24

43.    Anne Klein            2.19

44.    Guess                      2.14

45.    ESQ                         2.04

46.    MTM                       2.02

47.    Gucci                       1.97

48.   Burberry                 1.94

49.   TW Steel                  1.91

50.   Piaget                       1.79

51.    Carl F Bucherer     1.67

52.   Glashütte Original   1.63

53.   Frédérique Constant  1.55

54.   Ebel                          1.54

55.   Baume & Mercier   1.40

56.   Roger Dubuis          1.29

57.   Van Cleef & Arpels  1.11

58.   Dolce & Gabbana    1.07

59.   Jaeger-LeCoultre    1.02

60.   Philip Stein              1.01

(Source: Kantar Media)





About Joe Thompson

Joe Thompson, WatchTime’s editor-in-chief, has covered the global watch industry since 1977. Joe is one of the leading watch journalists worldwide and respected as a global authority. He is frequently consulted by the mainstream media on watch matters and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, Newsweek International, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The International Herald Tribune, Sports Illustrated and numerous other publications. During Joe's tenure WatchTime has won several awards and nominations.

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