Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Those awful advertising slogans - 1. Oris

I used to write a series concerning advertising on the tube devoted to deconstructing the underlying meanings behind the jarring slogans and images that faced us at stations or on the trains. Now that I commute hardly at all it seems fitting to put magazine ads under the spotlight, notably those featured in the weekend colour magazine that accompanies my Saturday newspaper.

Today’s subject is a watch. But not any old timekeeper. This is the Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter. It is worthy of study because
  • it features an altimeter
  • Anyone can buy one, not just royalty with large heads
  • The slogan is “Real watches for Real People”.
And it will set you back a mere £2,350 or so (Naturally this price is not displayed on the advert but yes, I bothered to check because I know you’d want to know and that’s the level of investigative journalism we go to on Ramblings). Now I can see that some particular users – mountaineers, scientists, balloonists and the like – could find it helpful. You may feel that this is a sensibly priced product suitable for those occasions when you simply must know how high you are (“Darling we’ve been invited to the Harrisons for dinner”. “Oh, no, they live at 200’ and you know that always brings on my nose bleeds”). But I’m not convinced that pilots would have this one on their Christmas letter to Santa. If you fly an aircraft with instruments, which you will if you are a professional pilot and therefore one at whom this watch is ostensibly aimed, then one of them will be an altimeter. It is essential. You don’t, from time to time, remove your arm from the joystick to inspect your wrist so that you can murmur to your co-pilot “We seem to be at 48,000, let’s take her down a bit”. You look at your CAA certified instrument panel.

But you will have guessed that the real target of today’s little packet of invective is the slogan. Naturally, we can examine its meaning by considering how else it might have been phrased.
  • Fake Watches for Fake People: No, I can’t see this as holding any water. If the producers of a film wanted lots of mannequins each sporting a glittering timepiece as the backdrop to a dream sequence where the hero finds himself in a land of frozen time…yup, that’s when the props man says to himself, I need those fake watch people. I shouldn’t think it happens much.
  • Real Watches for Fake People: See above. Why equip your dummies with real watches? Simply a waste of money. Although the cast and crew might want them as souvenirs after the shooting. Could be a useful tax-dodge. Still, this surely remains a highly specialist market and therefore hardly worth building a business around that particular slogan.
  • Fake Watches for Real People: This is the slogan surely used by thousands of Ebay and Car Boot sale entrepreneurs as they offload their wagon-loads of Rulexes and Potek Phillipes.
So what does “Real Watches for Real People” mean? We’ve ruled out the idea of selling fake watches for a legitimate business. We’ve struggled to see how watches might be sold for fake people. It seems that any normal watch business must be selling their legitimate timekeepers to genuine humans. How does Oris’ slogan in any way distinguish it from other manufacturers? And if it doesn’t, why on earth feature it in an ad for a product that hardly anyone reading that magazine is likely to buy?

Or, to put it another way, since I am not going to shell out the price of 4 iphones on a mere watch, I resent with some bitterness being branded, in some sense, as not a real person. Descartes, who didn’t even own a watch [Can we check this please? Researcher?: Ed] stated you were real if you could think, and I think I am thinking, or so it seems anyway. I assert my reality and my non-Oris bearing wrist and thus refute the slogan.

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