Pay close attention here. What Richard Mille pulled off at the Olympics with their sponsorship of 100M dash silver medalist Yohan Blake is nothing short of brilliant. Richard Mille might be a small brand but they’ve managed an impressive presence. Teaming up with sports superstars, they created the RM 027 for tennis great Rafael Nadal and the RM 038 for Masters champion Bubba Watson, among others. These were extremely savvy moves. But the Yohan Blake sponsorship takes the cake, nothing short of a marketing coup.
Creating mystery around the watch, Richard Mille encouraged people to guess the “secret” of who would wear their tourbillon watch in the 100M men’s final dash. We knew it was silver medalist Yohan Blake right after the announcement.
The big “secret” of who was going to wear the watch, never was one, because it was never intended to be. There were clues laid out like candy on a children’s Easter egg hunt. Richard Mille released the “secret” watch July 30th, just six days before Blake raced in the final, stating in the press release that it was to welcome a “sprinter” into the family. The watch wears a white, green and yellow color scheme, the colors of the Jamaican flag. Since Usain Bolt – reigning Olympic champion and Blake’s training partner — is already locked up in a Hublot sponsorship, the most likely candidate was Blake. The “secret” did the job, spreading like wildfire on the Internet by getting bloggers and journalists excited to find the answer Richard Mille had already placed right in front of their noses.
Remember, no athletes can officially endorse a brand during the Olympics, and Richard Mille must wait until 3 days after the close of the Olympics to officially announce the Blake sponsorship. But they got around that rule and timed it perfectly. Blake was set to vie for victory in the 100M finals wearing the watch in front of a national and international audience, during prime time this past Sunday evening.
How did Richard Mille do it? Since the direct route was blocked, they had to figure out a way to get around the sticky wicket of the no advertising rule or get busted. Using “Coattail” ambushing, a type of ambush marketing, they took advantage of the legitimate connection between themselves and Blake and Blake’s spotlight position in front of the cameras in London, and it didn’t cost them a wooden nickel. I’m not talking about Blake’s sponsorship of the watch here but the exposure or marketing of the watch via the Olympics.
Mille couldn’t have asked for better prime product placement if they had purchased it. As Blake took his position in the starting blocks, the Richard Mille watch was front and center. Seconds before the starting gun, an NBC announcer described how Blake positions his feet in the blocks. As the camera focused on Blake’s right foot, the eyes of watch enthusiasts around the world were on Blake’s right wrist, inches away. Although the watch isn’t a new caliber and looks to be the RM, Richard Mille is sure to create one for the speedy Jamaican that is tailored to running really fast. Interested to see how they justify that one.
Yohan Blake ran a great race, finishing second to Usain Bolt. Blake may not have been the fastest human at these Olympics, but he did make the Richard Mille the fastest watch that evening.
All I can say is: Bravo, Richard Mille, Bravo!