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Creative & Messaging

Former Marketing Director at Richemont, IWC Schaffhausen

IP Interview
Published on April 20, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • How to navigate the difficulty of telling stories about various different products under one roof
  • The power of imagery for luxury brands
Executive Bio

Jens Fabian Herdieckerhoff

Former Marketing Director at Richemont, IWC Schaffhausen

Fabian has over 20 years experience marketing luxury watches. He started his career as a product manager in Germany for Cartier before moving to Richemont when the company purchased luxury watchmaker IWC in 2001. At Richemont, Fabian was the Marketing Director for IWC where he was responsible for the international marketing strategy over 7 years. He then spent 2 years running Burberry Watches at the Fossil Group and is now a luxury market consultant.

Interview Transcript

What was the biggest challenge you faced in building and maintaining the IWC brand?

Basically, the challenge we faced was how to keep the different stories all together and not become confusing. IWC at that time was turned into a carbon neutral company. For example, we did face some questioning over our relationship with Mercedes AMG. People at the time, it was pre-electric cars. People would say, “How can you support high-powered cars, racing cars and at the same time be carbon neutral? How does that work?” We could prove that actually AMG was on the forefront of developing technology to reduce carbon consumption, but we had to make sure that made sense.

We also had to make sure that the different stories didn’t contradict each other or that the brand essence becomes lost. Always focus again on the authenticity, on the rooms, on the basics and make sure that all of the stories you have around stay around and don’t take over the core of your brand. Focus on the authentic values of your brand, your brand DNA and don’t let one or the other of your stories take over the brand. It’s a matter of balancing it.

What is the most difficult part about that storytelling? Let’s say you’ve got a new world; you’re opening up a new product line for this year. What do you find the most challenging?

Basically, it’s how can you be interesting and original at the same time because everyone is looking for stories, new stories. Again, if you talk about pilots’ watches, there are many brands that produce pilots’ watches or divers’ watches. The stories quite naturally will tend to be relatively similar perhaps. If you want to protect the ocean, you need to make sure you have the story that’s unique. That’s really what it’s about. How do you stand out from the noise? Your story has to be more interesting, more coherent and better than the story of your competitors. That’s really the key to it.

When you’re telling this story across different channels especially today, what techniques do you use to bring it to life, let’s say online versus in the print channel like you mentioned?

At the time and I think it still goes today, we believed in the power of imagery. Beautiful pictures. We would always invest a lot of money into top photographers, into top imagery to make sure that it’s absolutely perfect. Customers today are bombarded by pictures every day. They look at a thousand pictures on Instagram a day. How do you stand out? The quality of your imagery has to be perfect. That’s really the key to it.

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