Burkhardt & Hillman Return Bulova to TV

NEW YORK-Burkhardt & Hillman has been awarded responsibility for Bulova Corp.’s first television campaign in five years, an executive at the client said.
The Woodside, N.Y.-based clock and watchmaker, which has advertised little recently, will break the television image campaign for its timepieces in the fall. “It’s a great opportunity to use an icon that’s been around for many years. We’ll be making something old new again,” said Ron Burkhardt, chief executive officer of the New York shop. Bulova, founded in 1875, is the second-oldest watch brand in the country, after the Hamilton Watch Co. in Lancaster, Pa.
The client has been using agencies on a project basis and has met with a number of shops during that process. Bulova chose the agency for the fall project because Burkhardt and agency president Patrick Hillman “brought experience with television, combined with a strong strategic approach and business understanding,” according to Francie Abraham, director of marketing at the watchmaker.
Although absent from the airwaves for several years, Bulova pioneered television advertising, Hillman said, having produced the first TV spot in 1941. More than 50 years later, the shop hopes to use the brand’s history and emphasize the variety of styles available. “We’ll certainly leverage the brand equity and build on it. Now we’re in an era of wardrobing. People are now buying watches for various purposes,” Hillman said. The agency will target a large market: adults 25-49 who earn more than $26,000 a year.
Although billings were undisclosed, sources said spending would likely correspond to that of competitors Seiko and Citizen, which spent about $10 million each in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Bulova spent less than $1 million in the same period.
The client handles its own media buying.
Bulova, the largest U.S.-based watchmaker, markets 370 different designs. Although retail sales were undisclosed, Tom Fosorile, executive vice president at Bulova, said that the company consistently ranks within the top three moderately priced watch brands, along with Seiko and Citizen.