Writer and creative consultant
Writer and creative consultant
Cart 0

How not to sell a watch

Have you noticed how bad the print ads for Rolex have become?

Those dingbats at WPP’s Wunderman Thompson think a bit of retouching and reproducing the logo three times in an ad is all you need. Throw in a hashtag for the kids and job done.

Oh, and because they can’t think of an idea, they cram in a clusterfuck of celebrities wearing a Rolex (in case readers are flummoxed about what one does with a watch).

Four photos of celebrities side by side and color balanced with a light chocolate hue so skin tones match and filter out any visual individuality. Some inane headline about music. And body copy that warbles endlessly about something or other.

Where’s John Fuckin’ Knight when you need him. JFK was an art director of groundbreaking at J. Walter Thompson in London. Amazing work including a series of Rolex print ads that didn’t look like ads, didn’t read like ads, didn’t feel like ads.

The exclusivity was built right into the ad. The medium was the message. The distinctiveness was implicit.

I have a much-loved vintage stainless steel Rolex Datejust Oysterquartz 5035, black dial with silver indices, smooth bezel, tritium lume. But whenever I see a bad Rolex ad, I want to throw it away.

Advertising doesn’t just have to sell a product. It has to keep selling the product and everything it entails once the product is sold.


Older insight Newer insight