I have nothing but respect for competent, innovative marketing tactics. But when marketers fail to their homework and are clumsy with an unconventional approach, I will be first in line to call the ugly baby ugly.

Stephen D Time tried a clumsy attempt at guerrilla marketing on Amazon.com. A shill entered into the discussion groups spouting the merits of Stephen D watches in a forum inhabited by a number of watch nerds, including yours truly. Rather than rant and flame, I tried to be open and look at the merits of the watch.

I erroneously had the impression that they used a Swiss movement in all their models but as I double checked myself, this is not the case. They put a Seiko quartz movement in most (a movement Seiko doesn’t put in their own watches, as far as I could tell), and save the Ronda quartz movement for the “select” editions. This was the closest thing to a merit I could find, and then it went downhill.

The style is atrocious. A 45mm watch, with glitz and shine in a vain attempt to make up for the shortcomings in substance. I’m sure this will sit well with the pretentious but uninformed gangsta wannabes, and incompetent status seekers their marketing appears to target. Clearly sized for a man that feels inadequate, with sub-dials for day and date on most models, in an effort to look like a chronograph. A guy who wears a chronograph that he doesn’t know how to use is shallow, a guy who wears a watch that is trying to look like a chronograph that he doesn’t know how to use is embarrassing to stand near.

The overall styling is a thinly veiled homage to Chanel watches, which in turn are overpriced homage to Blancpain… An homage of an homage; isn’t someone going to go blind like that?

Stephen D is using a historically successful but lame business strategy. Sadly, we can expect to see this pattern reappear, as it is a way to turn a quick buck.

But if you’re going to attempt an “out of the box” approach to marketing; research your methodology and target audience, don’t just throw it out there and hope.

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Fugly, Rants,

Last Update: November 18, 2008

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