Swatch is probably one of the most amazing success stories of the all watch-making history. Not only they saved a lot of jobs during the 1980’s crisis in Switzerland but they showed an incredible level of innovation in terms of design. It is an amazing marketing company with loads of clever people who can produce many concepts that become watches afterwards. This time the marketing teams of Swatch went too far, according to the Paris city administration. This is the story of a tremendous fail.
Partnership with the Automobile club de France, a good idea?
The Automobile club de France is a very prestigious institution in France. It is a men-exclusive club founded in November 12 1895. The members of the Automobile Club of France enjoy several lounges, a swimming-pool, a gym, a library containing more than 45,000 references, a movie theater, bars, and dining-rooms. Numerous activities are offered, among which yoga, squash, shooting, billiards, fencing. The facilities also include a hair salon and a travel agency.
So when the ACF decides to renovate the facade of its building, Swatch did not hesitate to propose a partnership on the cover of the facade. Not only because it is a very prestigious partnership but also because it would propose a strategic visibility for the Swiss brand in the heart of the French capital. In deed, the ACF HQ is located in the same building than Hotel Crillon directly on the Place de la Concorde.
So as soon as the partnership agreement was set, the facade cover was prepared and the project proposed to the powerful DRAC (Direction régionale des affaires culturelles), the french cultural affairs administration. Despite the authorization for the cover in front of a historical building, the advertising slogan did not work as DRAC decided that it was a disrespectful reference to French history.
As you can see in the proposed project, Swatch would take this opportunity to advertise a new dive watch for women. The creative idea was to make a historical reference to Marie Antoinette and her decapitation on October 16th 1793 in that same place. So as you can see in the image above, the slogan was suppose to be: “Marie-Antoinette would have lost her head(mind)” in French: “Marie-Antoinette en aurait perdu la tête.”
Naturally Swatch thought this would be a very clever idea until DRAC explained that there are certain things in history that you do not want to laugh with. Of course if you think that Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, was decapitated innocently after being dragged from her prison to the Place de la Revolution (today Place de la Concorde), then you might start thinking it was not a good idea
So as there was no way that Swatch would be able to place the cover the way it was proposed, DRAC would firmly forbid, the only way was to place an alternative cover without the slogan. See here below:
So without a slogan, there is definitely something missing here as people might wonder why that watch and why the fancy decoration. The watch represents the new dive watch new collection and the specific 44mm Quartz model is the DEEP BERRY (SUUP100). Chunky numerals on the bezel and a textural chevron strap complete the look. Dial features superluminova highlights to last you through the night. Water resistant at 20.0 bar.
Probably the negative buzz that this news will generate to Swatch might get bigger than any buzz that normally it would get for a partnership with ACF. So it might not be such a bad thing at the end. We can see there are certain things that you cannot mess up with and Marie-Antoinette seems to be one of these. Florence Olivier, General Manager for Swatch Group France confessed being quite surprised as apparently it is not the first time the Swiss company does things in the same nature than the new operation.
Well, Swatch tried to play with time as they make time, but sometimes, time is not a good thing to play with. Bad timing?