American Marketer


Jaeger-LeCoultre builds regional awareness with polo sponsorship

November 11, 2013


Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre is targeting affluent watch enthusiasts in the emerging Latin American market with a sports sponsorship in Buenos Aires, Argentina that is likely to build brand awareness in the region.

To continue its longstanding involvement with equestrian sports, Jaeger-LeCoultre is sponsoring the Argentine Polo Open of Palermo Nov. 16 through Dec. 7. A sports sponsorship allows a brand to target a passionate demographic that can be swayed by the affinities of their favorite team or player.

"Polo is a good sport for luxury brands to sponsor because both the participants in the sport and the polo spectators tend to be very affluent and able to afford luxury products," said Ron Kurtz, president of the American Affluence Research Center, Atlanta.

"Because polo is a sport largely financed by the participants, funds from sponsors are particularly appreciated and contribute to a favorable image of the sponsor," he said. "Sports partnerships produce favorable exposure for the sponsor to the participants and the audience for the sport as well as the media that covers the sport.

"It gives the sponsor content for publicity and social media communications. In some cases, such as polo matches, sponsors have a venue for displaying product and personal interaction with the consumers that support the sport."

Mr. Kurtz is not affiliated with Jaeger-LeCoultre, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Jaeger-LeCoultre was unable to comment directly.

On the polo field
Celebrating its 120th year, the Argentine Polo Open of Palermo is the oldest polo tournament in the world. Jaeger-LeCoultre also celebrates a milestone this year as the watchmaker fetes its 180th anniversary.

During the Argentine Polo Open of Palermo Jaeger-LeCoultre will act as official sponsor. In addition to sponsoring the event, the brand will be the official timekeeper for all matches during the Open.

Held at the Campo Argentino de Polo which holds 16,000 spectators, the three-week polo event will allow fans of the sport to enjoy matches against eight of the world’s best teams.

Campo Argentino de Polo in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Jaeger-LeCoultre's support of polo stretches back to the 1930s when the brand’s iconic Reverso wristwatch premiered. Invented in 1931, the Reverso’s unique swivel design was originally intended to help polo players avoid damaging the glass cases of their watches as they participated in a match.

Currently, Jaeger-LeCoultre maintains its ties to the world of polo through equestrian event sponsorships and athlete ambassadors who represent fine watches. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s ambassadors compete in events in Argentina, Britain and Spain.

This connection continues with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s sporting partnership with internationally renowned Argentinian polo player, Eduardo Novillo Astrada. Mr. Astrada has won competitions at the Palermo Masters Championship in Argentina and the Triple Crown Open held at Tortugas, Argentina, Hurlingham, England and Palermo, Argentina.

Brand ambassador and polo player Mr. Astrada

Other polo players that serve as brand ambassadors for Jaeger-LeCoultre include Clare Milford Haven and Luke Tomlinson. Jaeger-LeCoultre is also involved in other equestrian sports such as show jumping in which equestrian Edwina Tops-Alexander is ambassador.

Equestrian state of mind
Sports sponsorships enable a brand to reach a target demographic in a centralized location. Equestrian events, especially, draw large crowds of affluent consumers, in addition to aspirational horse-lovers, allowing the sponsoring brand to increase awareness.

For example, Swiss watchmaker Longines targeted affluent equestrians through a partnership as the official timekeeper of the 38th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton, NY, Aug. 25 to Sept. 1.

The long-lasting relationship between the watchmaker and equestrian sports is likely to establish brand enthusiasts of various ages as the sport is appealing to a wide age demographic (see story).

In addition, Starwood’s St. Regis Hotels & Resorts and British automaker Land Rover came together on the polo field as team sponsors for the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup fundraiser May 15 at the Greenwich Polo Club in Greenwich, CT.

The Sentebale charity was founded by Britain’s Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help the neediest children of Lesotho, Africa (see story).

Although Jaeger-LeCoultre and other watch brands have strong associations with the polo world, sponsorships that are more out-of-the-box may be refreshing for some consumers.

"A lot of watch brands have a history of successful Polo sponsorship," said Ian Foley, a Portola Valley, CA,-based digital marketing strategist.

"However, it would be good to see luxury brands expand out of their comfort zones," he said.

"Hublot's decision to sponsor soccer and extend to digital sponsorship is a good example of an alternative approach, where the brand can start to stand out from the crowd."

Final take
Jen King, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York