Tissot Australia’s General Manager Scott Jungwirth spoke to Bullpen about how the luxury watch brand has evolved their sporting sponsorships to build awareness and engagement.
Utilising time as a theme for their ‘Last Two Minutes’ and ‘Countdown Clock’ AFL sponsorship activations, Tissot has had a surge in brand recognition, yet as Jungwirth explains it’s about creating more meaningful content for the brand and building longer-lasting relationships with sport.
Bullpen: What is the main value Tissot hopes to create through Australian sporting sponsorships?
Scott Jungwirth: “For us when we launched our AFL sponsorship 10 years ago it was about establishing brand awareness. With the reach AFL has in the community, and being one of the premier codes in the country, that was the primary reason why we first became their official timekeeper. Over the years we have evolved the way we’ve activated the sponsorship.
“I’ve been with Tissot for over three and a half years, and we took a position back then that we wanted to activate the sponsorship all season long. Prior to that, there was a lot of activity that would happen in the finals period but not throughout the regular season. That was probably a key area that we wanted to leverage.
“I think 12 months after that we then looked at how can we create more aspiration because it’s one thing putting your logo on TV but how can we create a little bit about aspiration. There’s two parts to that; one was announcing the ‘man of the match’ in collaboration with Channel Seven on Friday night matches. We introduced the man of the match, and part of that was to recognise the most elite players in the competition but a by-product of that is the best players in the competition are wearing a Tissot watch.”
BP: That’s a synergetic strategy, have the elite player wearing an elite brand.
SJ: “We knew that Friday nights will draw the biggest audience and then we followed that up with the launch of the first ever Premiership watch in 2015. It was inspired by American sports such as the NFL Super Bowl and NBA Championship rings. We created bespoke watches that were manufactured in Switzerland for the 22 players and winning coach.”
BP: Aside from AFL, tell me a little bit about Tissot’s links to the Australian MotoGP?
SJ: “We’ve been the timekeeper for MotoGP’s for over 20 years at a global level and then of course that ties in the Australian MotoGP. You may recall a few years ago we had naming rights sponsorship, that wasn’t necessarily a strategically planned it was an opportunity that came up.”
BP: Was it successful?
SJ: “It was an opportunity to reinforce our involvement in that sport in a high impact way. A lot of MotoGP enthusiasts already know about Tissot but it was an opportunity, especially in Australia, to amplify our reach a little more to a broader audience.”
BP: As you well know, Tissot recently extended its FIBA sponsorship deal. What makes basketball a really good fit for the brand?
SJ: “We’ve had a long affiliation with FIBA, basketball itself and in 2015 we announced a six-year sponsorship deal with the NBA.
“It’s about what basketball represents and the synergies it has with Tissot. Similar to football, it has broad reach, appeal and can connect with athletes that earns millions or a fan that attends games, it’s a sport for the masses. We have a broad range of products that can start at 300 dollars and move all the way up to six or seven thousand dollars.”
BP: What strategies are then employed to strengthen and amplify these sporting partnerships?
SJ: “Moving the focus to digital is logical as that is where the eyeballs are. One of our most successful campaigns we’ve done since our partnership with the AFL started has been the really simple ‘final two minutes’.”
BP: What motivates Tissot to leverage the final moments of sporting events?
SJ: “The final moments of games and matches tap into the true emotion of sport, whether you win, lose or draw there’s a need to share the most emotional time of the game, the final moments.”
BP: Can you share any future digital activation ideas?
SJ: “We have a partnership with Swiss Timing, they have the ability to track players quite closely and provide a lot of data, that is something we’re going to explore.”
BP: Will that mean providing more data and statistics to boost fan engagement?
SJ: “You look at the growth of Supercoach and other fantasy sports, I think the way data is used is going to go beyond that for the next five years and I think a lot of sports sponsorships will tap into that space.
“Also exploring cross-promotion across sports. We did a bit of cross-promotion with the NBA and AFL players. We had Patty Mills and Joe Ingles take on Marcus Bontempelli and Jarryd Roughead.”
BP: What future plans does Tissot have for timekeeping sponsorship?
SJ: “In Australia we will look to amplify content of the NBA and Tour de France and activate them on a local level in a more meaningful way.”
“One thing that we probably felt with the NBA is there’s a big audience but how do we get that to a broader audience that know of the NBA and its prestigious nature and how do we get that to a broader sports audience or broader audience in general? If we took a position that AFL still has significant reach, how do we use that but then tell our story about the NBA. That was the creative thinking behind the cross-promotional challenge is getting some AFL players and compete with basketballers. So that one, we can promote both sports and two, we do it to a big audience. To rely on basketball’s audience at the moment it’s not quite as big as other sports.”
BP: From there, there’s going to be chances to create well produced, narrative storytelling even telling personal stories about athletes and people.
SJ: “I think it’s an interesting space. When you’ve got content like that people are interested in the player and the story but it’s hard to tie in a product or brand sometimes.
“We’ve just tried to keep it simple, how do we celebrate time in matches, hence the AFL’s LED countdown clock and the creation of the Premiership watch. It’s aspirational, players cherish it and we have to keep it simple and let the stories tell themselves.”
BP: And it’s got to be on brand as well.
SJ: “It can be hard. We did a piece for Channel Seven last year with Jarryd Roughead and he did tell his story about his Premiership watch and recalled stories about the 2015 Premiership. One thing that came out of it that was really nice when he said he would pass the watch to his son.”
BP: The best result is that an earnest story is told.
SJ: “The hard part can be producing authentic content. We’ve made some mistakes where we had a brand objective first and then tried to create content to achieve that brand objective and then force it to a group of people that we want to talk to. It didn’t work.
“Whereas creating things that are natural and seamless and fits into the game, like a time clock, timing, where people quickly react to it as opposed to doing things like cooking shows and segments.”
BP: Do you have a favourite Tissot campaign?
SJ: “I’m a big fan of the Premiership watch and when we conceived that idea in 2014 we were met with a little bit of uncertainty from our headquarters. We sent through a 3D rendering of the Premiership medallion to headquarters, they reviewed it and they came back to us and said it wasn’t good enough. The quality is not there, we can’t replicate it appropriately. And then we sent over an actual 2012 AFL Premiership medallion to headquarters. They scanned it, did the computer programming around it and then created a CAD which then became a tool and then became a bespoke case back that was an exact replica of the Premiership medallion.
“Then we did a bespoke strap, we worked with Sherrin to create a cushion using Australian rules football leather to create a cushion that the watch sat on. Then we had Jude Bolton fly over to Switzerland and collect the watches and bring them back.
“Just being a part of the night, post grand-final, when the watches were being presented to all 22 players and the coach, seeing them up on stage and receiving their watches and their reactions was pretty cool.
“To me it had great reach, it was promoted on a lot of touchpoints, TV, social, yet it was probably the most meaningful campaign that I’ve been involved in because it’s something the players have forever.”