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My career in the watch world started in a fortuitous way. I was working with Cinecitta the Italian film studio and selling Italian movies in Hollywood when I met two extraordinary people, Michele Sofisti and Jean Claude Biver in charge of relaunching a traditional watch brand, Omega . They liked what I was doing with my movie premieres and events and asked me to work on the ‘new’ Omega (testimonials such as Cindy Crawford and Michael Schumacher, the Bond movies, the relationship with NASA for the Speedmaster watch). I decided to join this amazing team and we all worked together to transform Omega from a sleepy traditional brand into the dynamic powerhouse it is today. I lived in Switzerland for almost 3 years and it was a great experience that brought me closer to watches.
Hublot is Jean Claude Biver’s brainchild. After we both left Omega, he wanted to restart Hublot. I went 0n to create an agency and my first client was naturally Hublot and for 10 years I worked hard to help Jean Claude’s vision come to life. When he took over, the brand was pretty dead and JC had this idea of a contemporary version of the ‘old’ Hublot which he called the Big Bang. He also understood that there was a watch consumer out there that was not the traditional watch buyer, but the ‘rich guy’ who could afford a 15 -20k watch which had strong character and some story to tell.
I think with Jean Claude, the main idea was getting watches into the hands of nontraditional watch consumers . That was key -the strategy that followed was to see, also in mass driven events, opportunities for luxury so in that area we have developed relationships with Miami Heat and the World Cup. The product itself was very strong looking and Hublot introduced successfully the material component. It’s the first watch company to ever employ a metallurgist… that tells you a lot about how committed and detailed was the work done there.
I boxed both in Italy (also won Italian Cup in kickboxing) and in the US. When I arrived to the States I had some hopes of becoming a boxer but after going to gyms where world champions were working out, I realized I had the heart but not the talent. I tried though, in my marketing to be a boxer. At times passionate and on the attack, at times defensive and bobbing and weaving through punches. I try to interpret marketing like a boxing match, a chess game of mind and body, emotions and ideas. [/one_half]
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I started The Promotion Factory 10 years ago when I left Omega and Swatch Group. My vision was simple and complicated at same time -I wanted to create a different type of agency with a 360 degree capacity and people like myself that would live and breath the brands we represented. PF is special that way, people work here for years and our clients rarely change except perhaps when the time has come for an evolution on both client and agency side.
We have developed a staff that is immersed in understanding brands, especially the context the brand moves in and is capable of operating in whatever is needed to help that brand, be it a creative campaign, a PR strategy or a clever partnership relationship. The uniqueness of PF is that it really does invest in people. I think, and I hope this is a carry on from my vision of life, where we actually care what happens with our clients, we invest in them and try passionately to accomplish their goals. That’s what I really find a bit sad of many agencies -it’s more about them than the client.
Just like with Hublot 10 years ago, 2 aspects interested me, the person or people who are working with it and second the influence we as an agency can bring. I am a true believer in partnerships and a believer in what is called ‘negotiating to yes.’ I hate ‘imposition’ marketing from any side it comes from. Sure at the end you need a leader to make decisions but these should be felt at every level of a company and even of the agencies working with the brand.
When its all said and done I hope I will be remembered as a man who gave opportunities to people who through will or talent (and sometimes both) really went for it. I would like the Promotion Factory to be seen a bit like la Masia the soccer school of Barcelona soccer team which developed talents like Lionel Messi…I really hope that some people will say ‘hey that guy really knew how to develop people…’ and not only in business but also as human beings.
I also am proud of charities we support, such as Street Soccer USA which helps homeless through soccer and the Steve Nash Foundation. Steve plays in the summer on my soccer team and together with him and journalist Simone Sandri we founded Showdown a great charity soccer game with top soccer and basketball stars played in downtown NYC every summer.[/one_half_last]
Photography by Thierry Augustin