SBJ/August 14 - 20, 2006/This Weeks News

Watch maker gets on track with ISC

Tissot is buying prime space at four International Speedway Corp. tracks as part of its initiative to use motorsports to increase its brand awareness in the U.S.

The 153-year-old Swiss watch maker has completed deals with tracks in Richmond, Homestead/Miami, California and Michigan that will put its brand at the start/finish line. It previously contracted with Dover and Watkins Glen for similar signs.

Additionally, Tissot (pronounced Tee-SO) will debut a commercial later this month on ABC and ESPN that incorporates footage of cars speeding past its brand at the start/finish line with the slogan “Timing your victories.” It’s all part of an effort to make Tissot as popular in the U.S. as it is abroad — it touts itself as the top seller worldwide among traditional Swiss brands.

“We’re known as a great brand and retailers know us, but we have to face reality. In this market there is a lack of brand awareness and image,” said Olivier Cosandier, Tissot’s U.S. brand manager.

Tissot has a long history of involvement with sports, such as cycling, MotoGP, international ice hockey and fencing, but those sports offer little visibility in the U.S. So Cosandier and Tissot’s sponsorship manager, Anthony Migliazzo, formulated a plan using NASCAR and Indy racing as the platform to build awareness.

Tissot vaulted into U.S. racing last year by signing Danica Patrick as an ambassador and last February agreed to a five-year deal that made it NASCAR’s official watch and timekeeper. With the NASCAR deal came a new line of logo watches that range in price from $295 to $1,150 for a limited-edition model.

Cosandier wouldn’t divulge specifics, but he called Tissot’s commitment to American racing a multimillion-dollar venture over several years.

Cosandier considered other sports, but Supercross didn’t deliver the mass audience, he said, and baseball didn’t offer a natural fit for Tissot’s history of timekeeping technology.

“For any company trying to penetrate America and wave the flag, there’s no better place to do that than NASCAR,” said Zak Brown, CEO of Just Marketing, which recently helped AMD transition from Formula One racing to NASCAR. “Look at what Toyota is doing. They’re an import, but a very American import, and NASCAR is going to further help them with the American consumer.”

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