Last year, Swiss watch brand H. Moser & Cie posted a series of videos that showed its CEO, Edouard Meylan, talking to an ad agency about a campaign for its Pioneer watch.
In the first, the agency suggests a campaign built around passing the watch on to his son. Meylan flashes on his son partying and decides, “He’s not getting my Pioneer.” He also gives the thumbs-down to ads built around a sports celebrity and showing a man against the elements. By the time the exhausted pitchman has unveiled his latest brainstorm—an ad extolling Swiss craftsmanship—Meylan has stormed out, leaving a statute of a gnome—or maybe it’s a troll—giving the marketers the finger.
This pretty much sums up H. Moser’s decidedly offbeat approach to watch marketing. In a typically genteel industry, its promotions have gained attention by taking clear aim at its comrades’ ads. Sometimes the send-ups are gentle; other times they seem to actively give their colleagues the finger.
Meylan—whose family company, MELB Holding, took over H. Moser in 2013 (his father was CEO of Audemars Piguet)—says that the company does so many attention-getting campaigns because, well, they get attention.
“As an independent brand, we have no choice but to be different,” he says. “We have a young dynamic entrepreneurial team trying to be direct and authentic. We are using humor and provocation.”
And yet, two things make Moser’s ads different from the marketing equivalent of clickbait. First, the ideas and execution are genuinely clever, creative, and funny. In addition, the concepts have a serious undertone and address “subjects that are important to us,” Meylan says.