Breitling chief executive Georges Kern’s global tour of retailers landed in London today where he introduced a new(ish) logo, declared #timesup for any hint of outdated representation of women in advertising, and even hinted that Fashion Week-style events in cities around the world could replace mega exhibitions like Baselworld.
Retailers were shown what to expect over the coming two years as Breitling dramatically shifts strategy under Mr Kern, who became CEO last year soon after the business was bought London-based private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.
Breitling want to become a truly global brand, not just a player in the Western world, and the brand’s partners will be challenged to keep pace with changes that include a complete re-branding and a trimming of the product line from 600 reference to just 120.
“We have reduced the number of references to make it more digestible for retailers and customers. Sales staff need to understand the watches and we need to avoid the visual pollution of too many models,” said Mr Kern.
To illustrate the change of brand image, Mr Kern showed a clip of an old video of Top Gun pilots mixing with beautiful female ground crew was quickly replaced by a moody composition of men and women demonstrating equal skill at skiing, driving, surfing and diving to a soundtrack by The Doors.
A concept store in Beijing was presented as a ‘Breitling Loft’ where watches are presented on pool tables and the new logo is set against glass, brick and wood. There was not a pop art image in sight.
The fresh design was first seen at a new concept store in Zermatt, Switzerland, late last year.
Mr Kern’s global roadshow is designed to introduce the new Breitling to retailers and press, and he clearly feels this is an effective way of communicating the brand’s message.
Asked whether he might move Breitling’s main annual presentation from Baselworld to the familiar environment of SIHH, the former Richemont watch supremo suggested he is open to change.
“This roadshow is the most effective trip I have ever had,” he said. “Trade fairs should be more about communicating, more like Fashion Weeks in a number of cities around the world,” he added.