Almost everyone in the corporate world has been to a tradeshow or expo. If you haven’t, allow me to paint you a picture: a seemingly endless space filled with stalls, presentations, live shows and hundreds of people.
Tradeshows, especially in the technology world (E3 springs to mind) are often used as an occasion to launch new products. However, they also present a great networking opportunity. In fact, the opportunity is almost too good. With such a plethora of potential customers and competitors, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with meeting preparations in the run up and forget about the most important function of a tradeshow: branding.
The watch industry had one of its biggest shows, Baselworld 2012, in March. Branding was on full display in Hall 1, the main hall where the global companies like Rolex and Omega have their stands. These were elaborate, expensive-looking affairs and clearly designed to grab as much attention as possible. Competition was fierce and it was clear that these brands understood the marketing potential of Baselworld.
But what about smaller, independent companies? Moving past the visual noise of Hall 1, visitors could find the Palace, the area of Baselworld reserved for the independent (and often more exclusive) watch makers.
The Palace is much more focused on the watches themselves and the stands are more modest, so independents have to find different ways to stand out. One company that managed to do so quite well was Cecil Purnell. Readers unfamiliar with the luxury watch world won’t know of Cecil Purnell, but some backstory is important to demonstrate why their approach at Basel worked so well, and what other brands can learn from it. Cecil Purnell was founded in 2006, with the aim of crafting one of a kind, highly exclusive Tourbillon watches aimed at collectors and connoisseurs.
Cecil Purnell is based in Geneva and uses 100% Swiss components in its Tourbillons. Its first collection comprised some well-received timepieces. However, it is the launch of the new recent collection, comprising the V12 and V13 calibres, which made the Cecil Purnell stand so interesting to visit. The V13 is particularly impressive. Launched at Basel, its ‘Mirage’ execution, mounted in a sapphire crystal case, will only be produced once this year. A sapphire crystal case is very exclusive and shows that Cecil Purnell is willing to be daring by not following the crowd or producing the same movements as everyone else. Mirage was only one of many new timepieces on display, which also included the Pit Lane and Rendez-Vous, based on the V12 and V13 respectively.
I use Cecil Purnell as an example because they show exactly how a smaller, independent company can use Baselworld to full advantage. In essence, they used it to mark the realisation of a complete collection, meaning anyone going to their stand had plenty to look at and was likely to spend a lot of time examining their new calibres.