Wednesday, 8 December 2010

It's a mug's game

Advertising luxury goods must be the easiest job in the world. All you need is a beautiful model, an expensive photographer and a monochrome logo, and Bob's your account manager.

So I'm struggling to understand what Hublot were thinking when they took a call from Bernie Ecclestone, pitching his idea for a new ad campaign. The pint-sized F1 boss was violently mugged recently, outside his London office, by four men who made off with his personalised Hublot watch, valued at £11,000.

Never one to inspect a gifthorse's bicuspids, the enterprising entrepreneur suggested that Hublot create an ad based on his brush with the criminal underclass, telling the Swiss watchmaker's CEO Jean-Claude Biver, "Please use it to make an advertising campaign because I want to show that I'm courageous."

Running for three days this week in a number of British publications, the one-off ad quotes Bernie himself, saying "See what people will do for a Hublot". This appears alongside the requisite pack-shot and a glorious picture of Bernie himself looking like a Spitting Image puppet carved out of past-its-sell-by-date brisket.

With a huge black eye and sloping mouth, Bernie isn't quite the supermodel one might ordinarily expect on a glossy ad for a high-end luxury item. Likewise, making a virtue of the fact that he was mugged for his watch seems like an unusual 'sell' for Hublot to focus on. It's like Ferrari running an ad for the 599 GTO showing a keyed door panel.

Sadly, pensioners are beaten all the time by unscrupulous thugs looking to make a quick buck. And in many ways, 80 year-old Bernie is no different. But the next time some poor old woman is bashed on the high street for the fiver in her purse, I doubt we'll see her bruised features being showcased in the next Primark campaign - "See what people will do for a cheap pleather handbag?"

When Ecclestone pitched his idea to the Formula 1 sponsor, Biver responded by saying, "this guy has some guts." That may well be the case, but his dignity and class are less self-evident.

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