Swatch Watch: will Swiss client switch?

Ad agencies winning the Swatch ad account must keep one eye on the clock at all times, knowing full well that six months later, just like clockwork, they’ll have to repitch the business all over again, no matter how successful their campaign for the hip Swiss watchmaker was. And though most incumbents lose the business during this review, this doesn’t stop agencies from jumping at the chance to pitch it.
“Our strategy is built around totally changing the ad campaign twice a year, for our fall and spring collections,” said Franco Bosisio, a managing director for Swatch who is chiefly responsible for selecting agencies as well as overseeing worldwide creative development. “What this has often led to, in order to completely change the feel of the advertising, is our being obliged to change agencies every six months,” he said.
But Bosisio insisted that the philosophy isn’t to change agencies, simply campaigns. “Sometimes, it’s very difficult to get a completely new concept from the agency you’re currently using,” he said. Still, the current Swatch agency, Barbella Gagliardi Saffirio, in Milan, having just won Swatch’s most recent pitch last February for the $38-million autumn/winter business, is one such agency that has managed to hold onto the account for more than one campaign cycle. Daniela Fornaciari, the account supervisor at Barbella, said that while Swatch is a good client to work for, “it is very difficult to do any kind of long-term planning.”
But Bosisio pointed to the pluses of working on the trendy watch account: “It gives the creative people a chance to go in any direction, to provoke with their work.”
Daniel Tilles writes for Communication CB News in Paris.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)

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