Going where no watch has gone before


Omega has a good track record selling watches. It has been well established in Switzerland since 1846 and its watches have been used in space missions from the two most well known and highly regarded space programs in the world, those of the U.S.A. and of Russia. This is the mark of a successful business. But how can this company convert their achievements into more profits and higher earnings? The answer comes in a magazine advertisement released in May of 1999 wherein Omega uses the previous successes of its business to paint an image of a strong company with a solid product. This advertisement creates an image of reliability and wonder around the product by associating it with space programs around the world yet creates appeal for the product on the planet, as well as in space.

In this ad Omega relates its watches success with the NASA space program in order to convey the reliability of the product. This is done in the first point of the advertisement. At the top of this page-size ad is the sentence "NASA took Omega to the Moon, One day they will take us to Mars." This point portrays the company and their product as strong and trustworthy. The sentence suggests that not only did NASA chose to use Omega watches on a trip to the Moon, but they were satisfied enough that in the event of a journey to Mars they will plan to use the watches again. This makes the watches look well built and trustworthy for any prospective user. The ad builds upon this with the statement that Omega watches are "certified for space flights by NASA. Adopted exclusively by MIR and the Russian Space Program." This again affiliates the watch with the excellence and high standards of NASA, but it also establishes itself as the exclusive watch of the Russian Space Program, expanding the perspective audience of the ad to an international level.

This expansion not only opens doors for Omega, but it symbolizes a unity between the two space programs that few others have successfully achieved. It is important to note here that NASA and the Russian Space Program have, until fairly recently, been at odds with one another. Much of the Cold War was fought on the battleground of the space race. For this reason most of the world became established with one side or the other. Rarely has any one person or company been able to straddle the gap created between these two giants. It seems though that Omega has managed to achieve this feat admirably. This gives the watch appeal on both sides of this age-old conflict. It is highly likely that this ad was released internationally, so as to take advantage of this wide range appeal. During the Cold War nearly every nation supported either the United States or the then Soviet Union. For this reason some countries might hold the Russian Program in higher regard, while others might have more respect for NASA. So given this situation, Omega is in the position to be well respected by either side of these groups.

On the other hand though, affiliation of the watch to astronauts of any nationality will increase appeal for the product due to the great amount of respect commanded by such people. Ever since the advent of a journey to outer space the men and women chosen to lead these expeditions have been put on a pedestal by the society in which they live. This has been seen time and time again in films like The Right Stuff and Apollo13 as well as in other forms of media. Astronauts have always held a high level of prestige in the world. Anything associated with these people automatically gains some level of that prestige. By portraying the watches as being used by astronauts the respect for those people transfers directly to respect for Omega. Of course this is contingent upon people’s respect for astronauts. If someone perceived astronauts in the same way they perceived any other person then the advertisement would be ineffectual. Therefore, the society’s idolization of astronauts is an integral assumption of this ad.

Society’s reverence of the space program is also associated with the photograph in the ad, which plays off people’s awe and respect for unknown frontiers and the exploration of our galaxy. The ad uses an official NASA photograph of the Mars probe to emphasize the chance of astronauts going to Mars in the near future. This creates the image of the beginning of a journey which, if completed, would be forever remembered as a milestone in history. By connecting themselves to this journey Omega becomes part of this historic event. It is also important to note that the photograph in the ad is out of focus. This is another way of suggesting the Mars trip is evident in the near future. The picture is out of focus in the same way that the future of the Mars trip is blurry, but the image is still there, and is being clarified every day. This simply serves as an assurance that Omega watches will one day be sent to Mars.

All this discussion of the Omega’s trips to space and prestige within the watch business may begin to seem a bit overwhelming, but the final statement of the ad ties the company into the average society with imaginative ease. The catch phrase "Also available on Earth" makes Omega watches more attainable to the average person than they may have seemed without the connection. This links the product to the consumer in a way that makes the buyer feel good about the purchase, as if he were a part of the space program himself, even if only vicariously.

Omega manages to establish itself in this ad as a trustworthy and respectable company with a strong, reliable product while still making the watches accessible by any person who may have aspirations to go far in life. For these reasons, this advertisement was a successful one.