Which company comes to your mind when you think of the best watches in the world? You probably thought of Rolex which is one of the most well-known brands in the world. Although their products can only answer one question, “What time is it?” Nobody needs a Rolex. However, many do possess and many people want one.
A Rolex is a typical status symbol that attracts millions of people who are eager to spend their money. And it’s mostly due to sports.
Rolex created its brand strategy by sponsoring athletes and events from the most prestigious as well as expensive sports. Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and Annika Sörenstam, all wear Rolex watches while receiving their numerous trophies at the winner’s ceremony.
In this article, we will discuss how Rolex used sports marketing to become the world’s most iconic watch brand, as Rolex is the most known watch brand.
Rolex was established in London but relocated to the watch capital Geneva following World War I, and it has been the most sold luxury watch brand in recent years. They are the market leader, accounting for over a quarter of the market in 2020. That’s about three times the market share of their closest competitor.
It is the only watchmaker to appear on Forbes’ list of the world’s most valuable brands.
Rolex has more than $8 billion in revenue, and its brand alone was worth $7.9 billion in 2020.
That’s impressive for a product that technically, no one needs. Rolex has managed to become an icon. Such status, however, does not come easily.
Initially, it was the functionality that stood out – as we can see on their website: Rolex has established its reputation for innovation and quality! And this is important. But it’s not enough anymore.
The younger generations, who have all grown up with smartphones, need to be convinced of the value of a traditional watch from a completely different perspective.
To impress the modern customer, the brand needed to go beyond just utility. How did they accomplish this?
The Rise Of Rolex:
In the beginning, Rolex used slogans like “World’s first waterproof wrist-watch” and “A Landmark in the History of Time Measurement.” It was important to have the right Testimonials to highlight the technological excellence of their timepiece.
When Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex in the early 1920s, he aimed to replace the traditional
pocket watches with one of the supreme innovations of his time – a watch is worn on the wrist,
resistant to dust and water. He identified the sports world as the perfect environment to push his newly formed brand. He asked Mercedes Gleitze, an English swimmer, to wear the Rolex as she attempted to swim the English Channel.
The watch survived the 10-plus-hour attempt; it remained in fine condition, kept accurate time, and didn’t let a drop of water into the casing. Gleitze became the first Rolex Testimonial with this historic achievement. That happened in 1927 before Red Bull took over extreme sports.
That wasn’t the only gimmick.
Rolex watches have been used in some of the most extreme adventures, such as conquering Himalayan peaks, crossing polar ice caps, breaking the sound barrier, and exploring the depths of the ocean.
The Evolution Of Rolex:
Today, their tagline, “A crown for every achievement,” is well suited to their target audience. Individuals who have recently got a new job, promotion, or salary rise and want to brag about it to everyone else are their most loyal customers.
Their second-largest market is parents or grandparents purchasing a timepiece for their children who have recently graduated or are celebrating an important birthday. The slogan depicts Rolex’s transition from selling a product to selling a storey and sports is one of the best storytellers. That is why the world’s biggest watch brands compete for the chance to serve as the Official Timekeeper of major sporting events. It’s similar to Nike or Adidas signing players.
If you enjoy the Event, you will probably enjoy the official timekeeper as well. Omega is well-known at the Olympic Games, while Tissot is well-known at the Tour de France and Hublot is well-known in European football. However, no watch brand is as well-known as Rolex. Rolex has chosen their events very carefully.
Rolex And Sports:
So, who and why do they sponsor? Even though both Red Bull and Rolex have their roots in extreme sports, they seldom get in each other’s way these days. Rolex is no longer aiming to prove the excellence of its products by strapping them on the wrists of people swimming through channels and climbing mountains. They would rather select sports that best reflect their brand image and are played and watched by their target audience.
In other words, wherever there is a demand for a Rolex. The result is a strong Rolex presence in
(1.) tennis, with its events rich in tradition such as Wimbledon.
(4.) equestrian sports.
The only apparent overlap between Red Bull and Rolex is in (5.) Formula 1.
However, the two brands play distinct roles. With its energy drink, one aimed to create the world’s youngest champion. Whereas, Rolex wants to show that they have such a high status that they can be seen practically everywhere on the track, and even have the tracks named after them.
Rolex does not have a focus sport. It’s a popular sport with a broad audience, making it an easy choice for many businesses investing in sports marketing. However, because Rolex is not a product for the masses, it is understandable that they keep out of it most of the time. Also, Rolex does not even need to sponsor some sports to get recognition.
Lawrence Okolie, the World Boxing Champion, stated that a Rolex watch motivated him to win the championship. His promoter had told Lawrence that if he ever won the title, he would purchase him a gold Rolex Sky-Dweller.
“Every single moment in that ring, that’s all I was thinking.” he stated in an interview. He sounded like the best testimonial Rolex could have wished for. They didn’t even pay for it.
In any case, boxing is not a sport with which Rolex want to be linked.
When it comes to establishing their brand, Rolex has at least one significant edge.
The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation owns Rolex and there are no shareholders. So, by definition, Rolex is a non-profit organisation that is ready to forego short-term profit to maintain the brand’s longevity and strength. The fact that they are non-profit does not imply that they are uninterested in generating revenue and expanding their brand. However, when everyone is paid and all Marketing deals are completed, they donate the rest of their profit to charity – which, on closer scrutiny, may be considered Marketing as well.
Wristwatches that do nothing except tell the time would most likely never have been invented in today’s world. However, because watch companies built their brands in the way they did, they are still huge businesses today.
And Rolex has mastered the art of storytelling.
Initially with slogans linking the quality of Rolex watches to extraordinary achievements and world records. Rolex altered its strategy as it became harder to distinguish itself from other watch companies in terms of quality. It was no longer about creating high-quality watches, but about establishing Rolex as a symbol of achievement. That’s why Rolex will continue to sign the best athletes and be present at the most prominent sporting events.
Rolex has one of the best testimonies they could ask for i.e., Roger Federer. He has no controversies, outstanding achievements, and with each of his Grand Slam titles, he has put on a new Rolex before accepting the trophy.
“Every time I put on my Rolex; it reminds me of those great moments. It also reminds me that if you do not work hard, somebody else will, and they eventually will pass you “.
In a world where everyone can see the time on their phone, with Testimonials like Federer, Rolex continues to woo clients into spending several thousand dollars on a mass-produced watch and not having to deal with buyer’s remorse.