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Volume 22 No. 35
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Plugged In: François Thiébaud, president, Tissot

Tissot recently signed a global rights deal as the NBA’s first official timekeeper, with the promise of getting the Swiss watch brand on the NBA’s 24-second clock, and being the brand associated with a new league timekeeping technology under development. Tissot in December will start selling its first NBA-licensed watch, the $575 PRC 200 Chronograph NBA Special Edition. Inside Tissot’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City, Tissot President François Thiébaud detailed his company’s marketing plans behind the new sponsorship.

The thing everyone knows about the Swiss is that they take care of everything down to the finest detail. That’s how we want to be known through our NBA association and what we want to show to the American market.

Photo by: TISSOT
On the rationale behind your NBA deal: America is such a huge market for us. For us to make the NBA timekeeping and improve it so that it helps the players and people watching on site and on TV will mean a great deal to us —-it will mean we are part of basketball. … I have no doubt that our commitment with the NBA will give us greater exposure and visibility, both here in America and overseas, where more NBA players come from every year.

On what Tissot is putting behind the sponsorship: We completed this very close to the start of the (NBA) season, so we are still working through a lot of that. We will do NBA TV, digital, print and we’ll be part of a new idea for the shot clock, so that we’ll be part of new technology that will really make us a part of the game. So we’re hoping that will be an innovation that makes people know better who we are. It has to be quality — that’s the Swiss way. … But our idea is to find new ways to show timing, like (fellow Swatch Group brands) Omega did with the Olympics and Longines have done with skiing. We have to find ways to be unique and make a real difference to the end consumer of the NBA — and of Tissot.

On what made the NBA deal a must-have: Basketball is a great combination of individual and team play and spirit and because it is played in small arenas compared to things like rugby … we believe people feel closer to the game just because you can see players’ faces and if you sit in the right place, you feel as if you can touch the players.

On whether it will add more NBA players: It will certainly happen, and of course, we’ve had Tony Parker under contract for five years or so and will use him for our advertising right away. … We want to show that a watch doesn’t just keep time, it remembers a moment in time: when you pass a memorable moment, a watch is a part of you, like nothing else you wear.

— Terry Lefton