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Omega breaks down 80 years of Olympic timekeeping

February 10, 2014


Swiss watchmaker Omega is delving into its role as the Winter Olympics XXII’s official timekeeper with a multichannel effort that illustrates the mechanics behind its timing devices and celebrates the spirit of the games.

Omega will serve as the timekeeper of all events during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 7-23, in addition to creating a 2,014-piece collection of watches to mark the occasion. The international buzz created by the Olympics will introduce Omega to new audiences outside its primary markets and promote its stance as an innovative watchmaker with global appeal.

"Demonstrations and interactive features drive engagement by helping consumers to understand what the brand does, the products and services it provides, and the environment in which it functions," said Duncan Hall, strategy analyst at Siegel+Gale, New York. "When users engage with Omega’s interactive Web site they will gain an understanding for the scope of products and services Omega provides.

"Regardless of whether or not the consumer knew about these services before this interaction, the engagement establishes and reinforces the Omega brand identity," he said. "Having an association with a large international platform like the Winter Olympics for over 80 years will most definitely increase awareness.

"The International Olympic Committee does restrict the level of advertising that can be displayed on the field so brand awareness might not be as large as another large international event. Even so, because the Olympics is seen by millions and millions of people, and because it is so well archived, the Omega brand is getting incredible exposure and building very strong brand awareness."

Mr. Hall is not affiliated with Omega, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Omega was unable to comment directly.

Every second counts
In the days leading up to the the Sochi Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony Feb. 7, Omega began promoting its involvement in the games on its Facebook page.

Posts included the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Omega Pavilion, a pop-up shop of sorts, located within Sochi’s Olympic Park, where consumers can visit a branded exhibit and learn about its timekeeping devices, as well as photo posts of the watchmaker’s wristwatches designed for the games.

Omega Pavilion in the Olympic Park

The watchmaker included its Olympic partnership in The Omega Minute newsletter sent via email to brand enthusiasts. Also included in the newsletter are the brand’s Speedmaster “Dark Side of the Moon” and Constellation “Pluma” watches to show other facets of the watchmaker.

Omega's newsletter email 

A click-through on the top item in the newsletter titled “Faster, Higher, Stronger” lands on a section of Omega’s Web site dedicated to the Sochi Olympics. Consumers can first read about Omega’s 80-year history as official timekeeper and how this has lead the brand to make innovations in sports timekeeping.

The next section is organized as a Pinterest-inspired board of tile images. The two pages in this section highlight both sports played at the Games and the Omega timing devices that provide accurate scoring during the events shown in the photographs.

Images displaying Omega's timekeeping 

Omega continues its coverage with a section where consumers can discover the details of four event-specific equipments designed by the watchmaker. The sports included in the interactive demonstration are speed skating, bobsledding and two different types of ski races.

If the consumer selects bobsledding, for example, a track appears at the right of the screen with a red button that begins the demonstration. With each click of the button’s arrows, the bobsled moves down the course stopping at various points to show how Omega’s technology accurate keeps time.

Bobsled timing demonstration 

Below this section there is additional tiles that offer consumers more references to explore Omega’s relationship with the Olympics. Also in this section, consumers can view the watches Omega designed for the games in Sochi.

Omega created three special-edition, commemorative timepieces “inspired by the Olympic spirit and the colors of the flag of the host country,” the brand said in a statement.

The Olympic watch collection includes two Seamaster Planet Ocean watches for men and women and the 18-karat yellow gold Omega Sochi Petrograd inspired by the watchmaker’s Museum Collection, all of which are embossed with Sochi Olympic logo on the case back.

Omega's Sochi Petrograd and Olympic logo case back 

An Olympic effort
In preparation for the Winter Olympics, many luxury marketers sought to educate consumers about their role in the games.

For example, BMW North America is putting its design credibility to the test during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, by creating the sled for the United States two-man bobsled team.

The U.S. team enlisted BMW to design a more efficient bobsled, and the automaker has invested significant resources into the project. For a team that has not won a gold medal since 1936, looking to innovators in alternative fields may provide a crucial edge (see story).

In addition, U.S. apparel brand Ralph Lauren heightened its association with the United States Olympic team with a video featuring a select group of athlete brand ambassadors.

In the video, the athletes talk about their feelings about participating in the Olympics and representing the U.S. while sporting the apparel Ralph Lauren designed for the team. Ralph Lauren is continuing its legacy of outfitting the U.S. Olympic team, which gives the brand an opportunity to connect itself to the prestige of the games, and connect with fans following the sporting events (see story).

With an Olympic partnership, Omega has the opportunity to convey its message to international sports fans regardless of wealth.

"Keeping time is an important task for sporting events, one that requires accuracy, precision, and consistency," Mr. Hall said.

"Not only has Omega been chosen as the best brand to keep time for the entire sporting community they’ve also been chosen every year since 1932," he said. "Being recognized as the best brand for keeping time for a major sporting event for over 80 years certainly elevates their status as timekeepers and watchmakers."

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