Thursday, December 17, 2020

No Time For Nostalgia - Favre Leuba

News reached the North Shore offices of Tempus Fugit today that Favre Leuba may have recently made the move from duck to a'lorange, and will be looking for someone in Watch Town to swipe right.

Here is a link to the news courtesy of Watch Pro -

Okay, so now that you've choked down those curly fries, let's ask the deeper questions, like - "what does it all mean?"

Well, in order to do that, let me tell you about the third car that I owned -

Courtesy of Volkswagen
Now you will note that this model was hailed as "The Racing Volkswagen". The only "racing" this car did was back and forth to the local VW specialist, who to this day I am convinced actually lived in Stuttgart, Germany and commuted in every other month to actually work on cars. To call this car a turd is unfair; unfair to turds everywhere. But Dieter and his accountant always assured me that each new repair would be the last one, that the Scirocco would finally run like a champ. Just a few more hundred (1980's dollars) and all would be well.  Well that turned into thousands (little by little), until the Scirocco and I finally parted ways on a Christmas Eve drive from Oberlin, Ohio to Jackson, TN (which regular readers will identify as the gateway to Hades) where the door handles (both) broke and I was forced to get in and out not unlike a Nascar driver.

So let's get back to the topic at hand - Favre Leuba. Nostalgia is a very powerful force. We often remember things as being better than they actually were. Well, Favre Leuba has been passed around more than a Pete Rose Rookie All Star trading card -

Shamelessly Borrowed from the WorldWide Infoweb
The latest owner, the Tata Group has not asked the right questions, and has definitely been a bit unduly influenced by nostalgia. This seemed as natural a partnership as peanut butter and jelly! India was a very strong market for Favre Leuba, with its own regional office in Bombay back in the day.  

But as has been the case with some brands, they forgot who their potential customers were likely to be. Rather offer a true collection, a well-traveled veteran was brought in and it was decided that the mantra should be -

Because hey - really expensive dive watches that aren't Rolex Submariners ALWAYS sell, right?  

Well, not so much. It didn't help matters that North America was never really developed despite several expensive online "sponsored content" and banner advertisements with the usual suspects. Several high profile "adventures" featuring at least one CEO heading off to the Himalayas for a photo op.  

At least one, if not two CEOs have since taken the helm.  I am sorry, but it gets difficult to keep track without a score card. And the most recent incumbent thought he would take the brand's current marketing slogan to heart - 

"Trust Yourself" by hosting a very questionable media event with little or no (if the publicity pictures were anything to go by) social distancing or mask wearing. I would like to think that if everything was going well, they never would have considered such a bad move. But I also appreciate that when times get tough, you tend to do things you might not usually do.

So now it's Groundhog Day once again, and the latest owner, Tata (Titan) Group has had enough and decided to "cut bait". Here's the thing, I have no doubt that Favre Leuba could succeed. But simply throwing money at it and trotting out a greatest hits summary of big, excruciatingly expensive sports watches is not going to turn the tide. Let's hope the next steward of the brand can take a deeper look, and invest more than just money, but some actual planning beyond just what the CEO has a boner for, and look beyond the warm fuzzies of the 50s and 60s for inspiration. There's nothing wrong with nostalgia, but it is no substitute for an actual business plan.

Courtesy of The Wire

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