Unbranding and product placement
Deep Thoughts, MB&F, Uncategorized

Unbranding and product placement

There was a great article in The Observer the other day about “reverse product placement”.  This passage gives you the gist:

Here’s the deal: Remember how Snooki, drunk or sober, was never seen without that Coach bag dangling from the crook of her arm? Snooki and her Coach were as synonymous as The Situation and his six-pack. But then the winds of change started blowing on Jersey Shore. Every photograph of Guido-huntin’ Snooki showed her toting a new designer purse. Why the sudden disloyalty? Was she trading up? Was she vomiting into her purses and then randomly replacing them? The answer is much more intriguing.

Allegedly, the anxious folks at these various luxury houses are all aggressively gifting our gal Snookums with free bags. No surprise, right? But here’s the shocker: They are not sending her their own bags. They are sending her each other’s bags! Competitors‘ bags!

Call it what you will — “preemptive product placement”? “unbranding”? — either way, it’s brilliant, and it makes total sense.

Product placement is not a tool we are able to use at MB&F.  We do not even have extra watches to lend for shoots, let alone the resources to be able to give watches away.  It’s fun to think about though.  On the face, it seems silly.  Does anyone really buy a very expensive watch because Jay-Z or Sly Stallone wears it?

To me it is like all advertising: it seems like it should not work, but it does.  Obviously you’ve always known about Mercedes, you know they make good cars, but you have never bought one.  Then all of a sudden you buy one and it seems like you made the decision all on your own in a vacuum.  In reality, you probably saw an ad, or saw a particularly nice Benz on the road with a driver that looked cool, or even saw a picture in People magazine of Brad Pitt coming out of an S63 and it triggered something.  This often happens subconsciously, but there are numerous studies that prove it happens.  The reverse phenomenon, as discussed in the article above, is fascinating as well.  Can seeing a watch on a particularly loathsome person plant a negative seed?  Clearly it has been shown that even Paris Hilton can sell products.  Maybe any publicity is good publicity?

Which celebrity do you think would represent MB&F the best?  Who would we send a competitor’s watch to?  Since we can’t give one away, how about who would I be most excited to hear came into a store and bought one of our pieces?

John Mayer is famous for being a watch collector, but I’m not sure if he’s an MB&F type of guy.  Our owners usually share the trait of not caring what other people think of them, not typical tabloid fodder.  An MB&F would certainly compliment his Pateks and Rolexes well though.

Since we’re living in a fantasy world anyway, I would love to have Roger Federer wear an MB&F.  Classy, worldly, creative on the court, self-assured, you couldn’t ask for someone better to represent a product.  I must admit, Rolex seems to suit his low-key persona well.

On the actor side, I think Tom Cruise is a perfect MB&F guy.  He is successful, entrepreneurial, self-confident, and by all accounts is an extremely nice person.  I know he loves war planes, maybe HM4 will catch his eye!

And aside from the obvious Snooki to avoid, who would we want to keep distanced from MB&F?  I’ll let you use your imagination.  If you’re famous and you get a Richard Mille in the mail from me, don’t take it personally 😉

Who do you think would be a great brand ambassador or someone to “unbrand” with?  Let me know in the comments.

  • Felix Winqvist

    All I know is that if I saw an MB&F on Kevin Federline or David Beckham I would instantly puke.
    Great ambassadors is harder than I thought it would be, but why not: Leo DiCaprio, Ferran Adrià from El Bulli, Kanye West, Pharell Williams or C…hristian Bale?

    Another fun scenario would be if Drama on Entourage would’ve gone out and bought an Hublot because he thought “it was far superior to everyones AP’s in every way” and then Ari would drop some line laughing about how lame the watches are with their gumball movements. That would surely sink Hublot a couple of notches and raise AP further.

    • Steve Hallock

      Thanks, Felix.
      I like your ideas. I think Ferran Adria would be a perfect match with MB&F.

  • Skylar

    Blagojevich. He’ll kill any credibility of the brand more than a faux rich rapper anyday.

    • Steve Hallock

      that’s a good one! would be pretty ballsy of him to walk around with an expensive watch on at this point.

  • The Snook’ism is new info to me – and hilarious. Especially if true! Thanx a lot for sharing this. In terms of who should wear what, I could see Nicolas Cage wear a MB&F since he´s such a cartoon and automative buff. And since he does not seem to be a WIS, a MB&F sure would look great on him, as he would probably not wear anything else. Well…of course, his Batman toy watches from his youth would probably be the only competitors for his wrist time.
    In terms of unbranding, I would send Madoff a stack of Franck Mullers or J&Co.

    • Steve Hallock

      Nick Cage does seem like a good fit. He’s a bit of a maniac though – last I heard he was completely broke and owed something like $40million in taxes.
      I believe Madoff wore a Patek. Thank God it wasn’t an MB&F!!

    • Steve Hallock

      Oh I got another good one – Jerry Seinfeld. Would go great with his vintage Porsches. And who doesn’t love Jerry Seinfeld?

  • K.P.

    I think that Tim Burton would make a good ambassador. He is an interesting character and has unique style. Or maybe the actor Johnny Depp would be a better choice? He certainly would give you more exposure and he seems to be an oft used actor in Burton’s films.
    Perhaps someone like the CEO of BP would be a good guy to send a watch to “unbrand” another company??

    • Steve Hallock

      Tim Burton or Johnny Depp would be great!
      I think the CEO of BP would be making a very big PR mistake to wear a $77,000 watch on television, but I wouldn’t put it by him!

  • Jason

    I’ve read that Richard Mille gave action movie star Jackie Chan one of his watches (which I assume he has worn in a movie or two), as well as providing watches to professional F1 driver Felipe Massa (who wears it during his televised races) and to professional tennis player Rafael Nadal (who wears it during his tennis matches). This type of sponsorship, if done correctly, can pay off with returns far exceeding the cost of a free watch. And in this case, Richard Mille did it correctly. At least based on what I’ve heard about the demand for RM watches.

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