Seiko Preps $20 Mil. ‘Me’ Campaign

NEW YORK Seiko plans to spend $20 million over the next year to drive home a simple message: Our watches may be known for their functionality, but they also are very stylish.

“Seiko is a 120-plus-year-old company that has been known primarily for function, not fashion,” said Les Perry, evp, sales and marketing at Seiko USA, Mahwah, N.J. “But the last few years we’ve focused on [fashion-forward] styles. We want consumers to know the Seiko brand now stands for image and lifestyle as well as technology and reliability.”

Seiko said its core customers traditionally have been men 45-60. But several years ago Seiko realized it needed to differentiate itself. “We wanted to attract younger consumers [ages 25-45] and women,” said Perry. “And we wanted to play in the higher price-point range.”

A global campaign, “Me,” via The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., will be driven by TV breaking in November, and print in November issues of fashion-conscious magazines. The effort is an evolution of Seiko’s previous effort, “It’s your watch that tells most about who you are.” About half of the media spend will be in the U.S.

The focus of the TV spot is the $500-plus Coutura line; the majority of print supports Velatura, Seiko’s newest $500-plus watch collection. Seiko said its sweet spot in sales is between $300 and $500, where it has a 40 percent market share.

The $500-800 watch category is among the fastest-growing luxury segments, experiencing double-digit growth, per LGI Network, Randolph, N.J., which tracks high-end goods. Seiko introduced its first collection of $500-plus watches four years ago and they sold well, said Perry. Seiko’s price range now runs the gamut between $160 and $6,000 for limited-distribution watches. “[Back then] we didn’t even play in the over-$500 category; now we have a 24 percent market share [in men’s watches],” he said. Seiko’s market share among women also has grown in that period, from practically nothing to 11 percent.

TV shows young men and women at work and play asking, “Is it unexpected? Is it provocative? Is it unforgettable? Most importantly, is it you?” Ads will run through the year-end holidays; new creative is due in 2008. Perry said this also is the first Seiko campaign with a consistent global message.

Seiko’s main competition in the $500-800 range is Citizen and Movado. Movado has more than 45 percent of the market share between $800-1,000. TAG Heuer, Raymond Weil and Gucci each have less than 10 percent market share in the $100-1,500 range.

“Style is the driver for watches and people are willing to pay for style,” said Robert Passikoff, president at research firm Brand Keys, New York. “[Seiko has] the financial and production wherewithal and they are playing in a fairly narrow competitive set, so there is no impediment to entering that market.”