June 6, 2014
Swiss watchmaker Breitling is using its history of aviation as a way to interact with enthusiasts on social media.
The watchmaker’s latest social endeavour invites followers on its Facebook to book a flight with the Breitling Jet Team, made up of professional civilian aviators. Due to Breitling’s association with pilots and aviation, offering enthusiasts an experiential opportunity aligns with the watchmaker’s codes.
"The contest represents Breitling’s values as a brand because it encourages fans to capture what aviation is through their own eyes, while innovating to produce a winning entry," said Thierry Prissert, president of Breitling USA, Wilton, CT.
"Throughout Breitling’s 130-year history, we have made timepieces with aviators in mind and strived to make the best possible instruments for them, and this contest extends that mission to our fans," he said.
"Our fans are our biggest proponents and why we are known as the authentic partner of aviation – many of them are pilots, or aviators at heart. We do things like this contest, like bringing the Breitling Jet Team to the US in 2015, and supporting air shows around the world to support our fans and the world of aviation."
Welcome to the air show
The Breitling Jet Team is the only professional civilian flight team, most of whom flew for the French air force. Flying in L-39C Albatros Czech-made twin-seater military training jets, the Breitling Jet Team flies within nine feet of one another at speeds of almost 550 miles per hour with accelerations of up to 8G.
With nearly 50 performances each year at European air shows and other sporting events, Breitling Jet Team is making its United States debut in 2015. Thus far, the Breitling Jet Team has flown across 36 countries where it has displayed “the thrills of aerobatics in a jet plane” to spectators.
Breitling Jet Team over China's Great Wall of China
Breitling is currently giving enthusiasts the opportunity to go from spectator to participant with the #FlyBreitling2014 video contest.
Housed on the watchmaker’s Facebook page, fans can submit a video that captures the spirit of aviation. The grand prize of the video that best explores this theme will have the chance to ride in the passenger seat of Breitling Jet Team’s branded L-39C Albatros jet and will be given a private tour of Breitling’s manufacture, Breitling Chronométrie, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
To inspire enthusiasts to participate, Breitling has included a video gallery that shows the Breitling Jet Team performing and racing to give consumers a sense of the experience they may qualify to win. Also included is a Breitling Jet Team commercial and a teaser for the contest.
Breitling Video Contest #FlyBreitling2014 - Teaser
The gallery also serves as a promotional tool for Breitling watches as timepieces are shown in a few of the seven videos posted. Breitling will likely generate brand recognition as well, as the jets are outfitted with its logo.
Breitling’s #FlyBreitling2014 video contest concludes on June 12 and will be judged by the watchmaker’s Facebook community.
Breitling Jet Team video gallery
To bring its affiliations with aviation to the next level, Breitling has also partnered with the S3 company, Swiss Space Systems. In 2015, S3 will be organizing the first weightless ZeroG flights to the civilian public in more than 15 locations, including Asia, the Middle East and Central America.
Breitling is a main partner of S3’s project and will give passengers an exclusive S3 ZeroG chronograph as a souvenir, along with their flight suit. The chronograph features a black titanium case and SuperQuartz movement with an S3 logo on its dial and rubber strap while the case back shows a parabolic flight engraving.
As important as it is to connect with enthusiasts, Breitling also finds ways to connect with those who facilitated the brand's upbringing.
For example, the brand honored World War II veterans with a limited-edition watch collection that contributes a percentage of proceeds to the Honor Flight Network.
The 56-piece wristwatch collection represents Breitling’s strong connection to aviation and the charity organization’s mission of arranging flights for veterans to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington free of charge. Forging a connection with a charity organization that reflects the values and heritage of a brand helps to display a sense of community among enthusiasts while creating new fans (see story).
Also, Breitling looked to increase the awareness of its Breitling Scholars program and raise funds for education through the auction of a collectible timepiece.
The watchmaker auctioned the first model of its limited-edition Naval Centennial Airwolf watch, of which only 500 were produced. The Breitling Scholars funds benefits the National Flight, which encourages science, math, engineering and technology education (see story).
Experience-based campaigns are an effective way for a brand to interact with affluent enthusiasts, while also involving aspirational consumers.
"This initiative has expanded awareness for Breitling because it has our customers and fans of the brand excited about aviation and capturing that on film, while intrinsically tying it to Breitling," Mr. Prissert said.
"The Breitling Jet Team are in the top of their class and getting a chance to fly with them is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – they really embody the spirit of the brand," he said.
Jen King, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York