GEORGE KERN,

CEO Breit­ling..........................................................................

Prestige (Lebanon) - - Contents -

Pres­tige Ma­ga­zine has al­ways co­ve­red watch trade shows in Swit­zer­land, to keep you up- to- date re­gar­ding the la­test news of the in­dus­try. Du­ring our pre­sence at Ba­sel­World 2018, we had the oc­ca­sion to be part of a round table, among six other na­tio­na­li­ties, with Georges Kern, CEO of Breit­ling, wor­king to create a new brand iden­ti­ty for the 134- year- old brand. The Swiss brand, best known for its mas­cu­line pi­lots watches is ex­plo­ring other ter­ri­to­ries like land and sea, with a new com­mu­ni­ca­tion stra­te­gy and a unique ad­ver­ti­sing cam­pai­gn.

Can you tell us about the Breit­ling Squad concept and your part­ner­ship with Brad Pitt and Char­lize The­ron, who are part of your ad­ver­ti­sing cam­pai­gn? First of all there will be ma­ny squads, we are going to an­nounce an ex­plo­rers squad, a sur­fers squad. I wan­ted to find a good idea to bridge from avia­tion to other seg­ments. This in­no­va­tive idea is roo­ted in the dy­na­mic va­lues of Breit­ling, planes fly in a for­ma­tion, in squads, it’s a team. When you look around in ad­ver­ti­sing, you see all the brands ha­ving a star, one brand am­bas­sa­dor. We nee­ded to find so­me­thing dif­ferent and this is why we will create teams, in dif­ferent fields. We will have in­ter­na­tio­nal squads illus­tra­ting our pro­ducts, our ima­ge­ry, if you look at the ci­ne­ma squad, we have an Asian su­per­star, a wo­man, a young ac­tor which face is re­co­gni­zable and you have Brad Pitt the most re­co­gni­zable face on the pla­net. There is to­tal flexi­bi­li­ty in brin­ging people to­ge­ther and the whole cam­pai­gn is flexible, if a coun­try wants to do so­me­thing more lo­cal it can be done with us.

Do you think it’s the chal­lenge of your life being CEO of Breit­ling? I had ma­ny op­por­tu­ni­ties to join com­pa­nies and sha­re­hol­ders, but there are ma­ny fac­tors to make it work. Breit­ling is a suc­cess­ful com­pa­ny, ve­ry pro­fi­table. I wouldn’t have joi­ned if it was a re­struc­tu­ra­tion case. The chal­lenge is to bring it to the next le­vel, it was a pri­vate com­pa­ny, run by ve­ry pas­sio­nate people in avia­tion, now we have new in­ves­tors with a team who wants to make Breit­ling a real glo­bal brand. To reach this goal, ad­just­ments should be made in pro­ducts, in com­mu­ni­ca­tion etc, etc… to make it tru­ly glo­bal. Do you think with the ac­tual eco­no­mic conjunc­ture, you can adopt with Breit­ling the same stra­te­gy adop­ted with other brands be­fore? The cur­rent eco­no­mic en­vi­ron­ment is po­si­tive. The mar­ket is sta­bi­li­zed, if I look at Asia, if I look at grea­ter Chi­na where we are wea­ker, I think that the pe­ne­tra­tion of the mar­ket is ea­sier than it was 15 years ago, be­cause the mar­ket is to­tal­ly trans­pa­rent, di­gi­tal, and the Chi­nese know that Breit­ling is a ve­ry strong brand. The Chi­nese want new brands, co­ming with a new image, more adap­ted pro­ducts to the mar­ket. The speed of di­gi­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion will make the pe­ne­tra­tion of that mar­ket qui­cker, it’s much dif­fi­cult when you’re an unk­nown brand. We have this huge brand awa­re­ness and now we are laun­ching Breit­ling’s new brand iden­ti­ty and new Breit­ling pro­ducts. I’m confi­dent about that, we want to be a glo­bal brand and with the line of pro­ducts, we will gain a new cus­to­mer base in the exis­ting mar­ket. We will conti­nue to make big watches, but we will al­so make smal­ler watches. If you look in­to the his­to­ry of the brand, it has in­ven­ted eve­ry­thing in ch­ro­no­graph, with beau­ti­ful de­si­gns, so why not use it? A brand needs to be rea­dable to the consu­mer, we have clear lines, clear aes­the­tic, clear seg­men­ta­tions of emo­tions, of words, clear seg­men­ta­tions of mo­ve­ments, clear seg­men­ta­tions of squads.

You said that the com­pa­ny is pro­fi­table, but you wish your sha­re­hol­ders in­vest more in the com­pa­ny. How big you wish the in­vest­ment to be? It’s huge, we are buying back all our agents and Brad Pitt is not a cup of cof­fee, all the stars love the squad and know what I have been doing with ce­le­bri­ties in the past, they trust the qua­li­ty will be great.

You said you are stee­ring a tran­si­tion per­iod, when we will be able to see the com­plete new lines of Breit­ling? A new ele­gant line cal­led the Pre­mier will come in the se­cond part of the year, and we will have in­tro­du­ced couple of new bou­tiques, we have four lines: Su­per Ocean He­ri­tage, Na­vi­ti­mer I and Na­vi­ti­mer II, the Pi­lots then there will be the Pre­mier, the chro­no­mat. If you walk around the booth you im­me­dia­te­ly read the brand much bet­ter than be­fore.

Which brand is your di­rect concur­rent? We don’t com­pete with brands, we com­pete in seg­ments, our seg­ment is bet­ween 3500 and 8000CHF. There are pi­lots watches, fe­male watches, ele­gant watches, di­ving watches. In each seg­ment, at this price point, we com­pete with whoe­ver is there, but we are not loo­king at com­pe­ti­tors, we are loo­king to bring an in­ter­es­ting of­fer in the avai­lable seg­ments.

Why did you cut the wings in the new lo­go? There’s a clear trend for sim­pli­ci­ty with people’s new mind­set. Wars, at­tacks, an­ti­cor­rup­tion, eco­lo­gi­cal di­sas­ters make people more dis­creet, wan­ting more true va­lues. As for the wings, as I said we are not on­ly a pi­lots watch, we do water and earth, we can­not ar­ti­fi­cial­ly put wings on a di­ver’s watch, which by the way was not the case in the past. The Su­per Ocean He­ri­tage had no wings, the trans­ocean had no wings. The lo­go we are using, was ba­si­cal­ly the lo­go of Breit­ling for 50 years, so it is by far the lon­gest lo­go we’ve used. A small brand needs to have one cor­po­rate iden­ti­ty. I don’t know one single luxu­ry brand in the world with dif­ferent cor­po­rate iden­ti­ties and if you have th­ree seg­ments, you need one ge­ne­ric cor­po­rate iden­ti­ty. For the pi­lots watches, the wings can be used in terms of en­gra­vings on the case, or on the os­cil­la­ting mass, the an­chor on the di­ving watches, we go back to seg­men­ta­tion and ac­cor­ding to the sto­ry tel­ling, the ima­ge­ry, the func­tion of the watch, there will be a pri­ma­ry lo­go and the illus­tra­tive lo­go.

You are chan­ging the de­si­gn of your watches, do you ex­pect your cus­to­mers will change as well? A brand has to evolve. This is why I want to get out of this mi­ni seg­ment of the pi­lots watches, be­cause it will di­lute the brand. The di­lu­tion of a brand comes when in the same seg­ment you make the pro­duct in 300 dif­ferent re­fe­rences, you don’t re­co­gnize the pro­duct any­more: ro­man fi­gures, Ara­bic fi­gures, in­dexes, we need to have rea­dable de­si­gns. I pre­fer ha­ving th­ree or four lines with clear de­si­gn codes and iden­ti­ties than one line with th­ree hun­dred va­rie­ties, be­cause with this we can build real icons.

How would you des­cribe Breit­ling in th­ree words? First: Beau­ti­ful. Se­cond: Phe­no­me­nal price- qua­li­ty ra­tio. The cus­to­mer is get­ting ma­nu­fac­ture mo­ve­ment, 5 years gua­ran­tee, chro­no­me­ter cer­ti­fi­cate. Third: ba­sed on one of the ri­chest his­to­ries in the world.

Con­duc­ted in Ba­sel by MAR­CELLE NADIM

Georges Kern CEO of Breit­ling on a Nor­ton Com­man­do Mo­tor­cycle.

Char­lize The­ron. Adam Dri­ver. Brad Pitt. Da­niel Wu.Breit­ling will create squads ( teams), whose mem­bers are re­co­gni­zed mas­ters in their pro­fes­sion. Meet in the pic­ture above the mem­bers of the first ci­ne­ma squad, the star Brad Pitt, Char­lize The­ron and the gif­ted ac­tors Adam Dri­ver and Da­niel Wu.

Breit­ling Chro­no­me­ter Na­vi­ti­mer1 B01 Ch­ro­no­graph 46.

Breit­ling Chro­no­me­ter Na­vi­ti­mer 8.

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