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Longines confirms equestrian affinity through FEI Nations Cup role

February 6, 2014


Switzerland’s Longines is fortifying its relationship with equestrian sports through a social video that highlights the watchmaker's involvement with the FEI Nations Cup.

Organized by the Fédération Équestre Internationale, the FEI Nations Cup is the most prestigious show jumping series for international equestrian teams. With many watchmakers sponsoring or acting as official timekeepers of equestrian sports, the partnership with the FEI will likely benefit Longines due to its notoriety in the sport’s circuit.

"The Longines logo is in every frame, and the mind associates to precision, elegance and grace," said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR Research, Boston. "It’s really well done,  awesome, actually.

"These are precision sports, with exquisite looking animals at the center," she said. "The delicacy of the hooves that propel the horse over the jumps are a great association as well.

"This is pretty standard brand building, just exceptionally executed."

Ms. Rosenblum is not affiliated with Longines, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Longines did not respond by press deadline.

Keeping time
In 1926, Longines received its first mandate as official timekeeper of a show jumping event. Since then, the watchmaker has been heavily involved with equestrian sports as well as alpine skiing, tennis, gymnastics and archery.

Longines timekeeper

To share its connection with the first qualifying round of the FEI Nations Cup held on Feb. 6 in the United Arab Emirates, Longines posted a social video to its Facebook page.

Longine’s video introduces its role as timekeeper with the FEI Nations Cup in the caption space. The “Show Jumping” video features Swiss brand ambassador and professional show jumper Jane Richard.

The Show Jumping video also acts as a promotional effort for Longines’ Conquest Classic collection, inspired by the watchmaker’s affinity for equestrian sports.

Longines’ video begins with the watchmaker’s emblem appearing on top of a scene from inside a stable. The next frame shows a horse being fitted with a saddle and other protective gear used during show jumping to protect the horse’s hooves.

As the horse is prepared for its event, the video slightly pauses when Ms. Richard’s wristwatch is shown. To complete the horse’s show dressings, Ms. Richard places a Longines blanket on its back.

Longines video still

Next, the approximately 90-second video shows a computer screen counting up from .12. The video is shot in a blue-ish grey and intensified by dramatic music that builds anticipation for Ms. Richard to jump the horse.

The video footage focuses on the movement of the horse as it prepares to jump. In the background, Longines banners can be seen surrounding the show ring as well as a scoreboard and announcers.

As the horse nears the jump, the music becomes more powerful to coincide with the strength of the animal. When the jump is completed, the horse and Ms. Richard fade to reveal Longines’ Conquest Classic watch in stainless steel.

Longines presents Show Jumping 2014

The caption included with the video leads consumers to Longines’ Web site where more information about the watch and others in its series.

Aligning with a sport rather than a straightforward watch promotion may captivate consumer attention.

"Longines' video is clearly for horse enthusiasts, and isn't meant as a blatant watch commercial," said John Casey, senior vice president of Havas Public Relations, New York. "Today's consumer doesn't usually like to be pounded over the head, so the video does a nice job of subtly highlighting the watches without over exposing them.

"Equestrian sports are predominately played and watched by an upscale crowd, so Longines benefits by connecting with the luxury shopper through their association with this high-end activity," he said.

Horsing around
Longines has promoted its affiliation with other well-known equestrian events in the past.

For example, the watchmaker targeted affluent equestrians through a partnership as the official timekeeper of the 38th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton, NY, Aug. 25 to Sept. 1.

The long-lasting relationship between the watchmaker and equestrian sports is likely to establish brand enthusiasts of various age as the sport is appealing to a wide age demographic (see story).

Equestrian sports is ideal for watchmakers targeting affluent consumers in a specific region.

For instance, Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre targeted affluent watch enthusiasts in the emerging Latin American market with a sports sponsorship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that is likely to build brand awareness in the region.

To continue its longstanding involvement with equestrian sports, Jaeger-LeCoultre sponsored the Argentine Polo Open of Palermo Nov. 16 through Dec. 7. A sports sponsorship also allows a brand to target a passionate demographic that can be swayed by the affinities of their favorite team or player (see story).

Equestrian sporting events are an ideal atmosphere for luxury brands to openly promote products to affluent consumers in a frequented space.

"Equestrian sports are, unlike other athletic endeavors, reserved for the truly wealthy," said Chris Ramey president of Affluent Insights, Miami, FL.

"Luxury brands don’t overwhelm the reason for an event because subtlety sells the affluent," he said.

"Exposure, even subliminally, manifests the conversation and is integral to marketing luxury."

Final Take
Jen King, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York