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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hublot Ad Spurs Discussion, Controversy

An advertisement using the bruised and beaten face of Formula 1 head Bernie Ecclestone with the statement, “See what people will do for a Hublot,” has created a bit a controversy. Ecclestone was mugged in London and his Hublot watch was one of the items stolen. He sent the picture, taken right after the mugging, with the statement used in the ad to Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of Hublot. The ad was attempt at humor and a way to draw focus to a serious issue, according to Biver, who said he created the ad at the insistence of Ecclestone. It appeared last week in the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune as a one-off. But there are rumors that it may become a full-blown campaign. A story about the ad appeared in the Jewelry News Network Tuesday.

In the Wednesday edition of the Financial Times in its “Judgment Call” section (subscription required), the U.K.-based newspaper asked an executive, brand specialist and academic about their advice when trying to tackle this type of an issue and using humor to do it. Responses ranged from Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam, who cautioned about the long-term goal of such ads, to Rita Clifton, chairman of Interbrand London, who said that using topical events “can be a good route. But it depends who is doing it and how.” Meanwhile, Rohit Deshpande, professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, said the ad “is in poor taste, is bad marketing, and creates the wrong kind of long-term consumer impression.” What do you think?

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