Hublot’s high profile sponsorship of the Football World Cup and Chelsea Football Club reinforces the stereotype that its Big Bang and Classic Fusion timepieces are made for and bought by Premier League footballers and their WAGs.
That is a reputation that has done it little harm as sales rose to CHF 629 million last year, according to Morgan Stanley research, more than twice the turnover of Tudor.
Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot’s CEO, admits he is more of a football than a cricket fan, but he knows an opportunity when he sees one, and reaching out to the global audience of cricket obsessives means conquering an almost entirely different demographic to football.
There has been convergence between football and cricket fans over the past decade so the cliche of football being for the working class and cricket for toffs no longer entirely applies. Many sports fans love both but there is certainly still a more gentile nature to a cricket crowd (super overs in World Cup finals not withstanding). And they are older.
Hublot would have been monitoring viewing figures in emerging markets like India during the World Cup, and the signing of Rohit Sharma was recognition that the country is a key target. Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen were signed as friends of the brand and made a number of personal appearances to stoke interest from England fans. Michael Clarke and Pat Cummins did the same for Australians.
England’s success is a bonus for Hublot in this country, particularly as Sky did a deal with Channel 4 that allowed this weekend’s epic final to be screened on free-to-air TV.
Ben Stokes, England’s highest profile player, could be an unofficial friend of Hublot since he was given a watch as a prize for his Man of the Match performance in Sunday’s final.
Hublot says it has been extremely proud to work with the International Cricket Council to serve as the Official Timekeeper and Official Watch of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and even Mr Guadalupe has been swept up in the drama of the tournament’s climax.
“What a final and what a tournament,” he exclaims. “Cricket is already one of the world’s most popular sports, with more than 300 million global participants. We are so excited to see the impact of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 on cricket around the world and are delighted to have played a part in the development of this wonderful game. Hublot loves cricket,” he adds.
Hublot has a habit of sticking with its key partnerships and I would expect its association with cricket to grow. As its expertise of the sport increases, it should also look at ways to grab a bit more screen time during the televised matches.
The Decision Review System (DRS) is a perfect example. For the uninitiated, this is like the dreaded VAR in football where an on-pitch decision by the umpire is challenged by a batsman or fielding captain. If the cricketer thinks a poor decision has been made, he has 15 seconds to decide whether to go for a DRS review. This 15 second countdown was an prime opportunity for a Hublot watch face to have been used as the graphic, and would have had a similar impact to the Hublot boards that are held up by fourth officials in football when there are substitutions or extra time.
Another opportunity to make an association between precision on the field and Hublot’s precision watchmaking would be Hawkeye analysis. This is computerised ball tracking where the finest of margins make all the difference. I’d have made that the Hublot Hawkeye.