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NEW YORK — Uma Thurman seems to be LVMH’s advertising darling. Her print ads for Louis Vuitton launched this month, and now she’s pushing product for Tag Heuer — also an LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned firm, though executives insisted the brands’ decisions to hire Thurman had nothing to do with each other.
Thurman is one of four celebrities in the luxury watch company’s new ad campaign photographed by Patrick Demarchelier and titled “What Are You Made Of.” Golf pro Tiger Woods, tennis star Maria Sharapova and NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon also will appear in the ads, which are set to begin in mid-February.
“We’re broadening the brand positioning from sports-inspired to sports-, fashion- and glamour-driven,” said Daniel Lalonde, president and chief executive officer of LVMH Watch and Jewelry, at a press conference Tuesday at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel here.
Indeed, Woods has represented the brand since 2003, and Sharapova and Gordon will continue to appeal to the sports-minded consumer. But Tag Heuer has a history with Hollywood, starting in 1970 when Steve McQueen partnered with the company to support its Monaco Chronograph watch. Since then, Tag Heuer watches have been placed in a number of films, most recently the Golden Globes-nominated “Closer” and “Collateral.”
In the ads, Thurman is posing with her wrist near her face; both Woods and Sharapova are shown finishing a swing, and Gordon appears in his racing gear. All the ads, except for Gordon’s, will run worldwide. Gordon’s will only appear in the U.S.
Thurman, who has a three-year contract with the brand, was chosen because she portrays intelligence, strength, beauty and style, Lalonde said. “And if you’ve ever seen ‘Kill Bill,’ you see she’s still feminine but performance-driven,” he said.
Like the three other ambassadors, Thurman will contribute to the design of Tag Heuer watches, in particular the Links series.
The firm will invest deeper in its women’s business this year and will introduce women’s styles with touches such as diamond and mother-of-pearl in each of its five collections. Last year, the brand saw a mid-30 percent increase in overall sales. Tag Heuer expects its greater focus on the women’s market in 2005 will help drive high-double-digit increases in sales this year, Lalonde said, and expects the women’s sector to grow at a 50 percent faster rate than the men’s.
To attract the consumer, in addition to signing Thurman and Sharapova, Tag Heuer will begin advertising in women’s fashion magazines starting with March issues. Lalonde declined to say how much the “What Are You Made Of” campaign cost, only revealing the budget was a double-digit increase over last year’s plan.
With the advent of the Woods campaign, which brought immediate double-digit growth within the first month, Tag Heuer was quick to learn the power of a celebrity endorsement. It appears that it’s not looking back. Also beginning in February, Brad Pitt will serve as a regional brand ambassador for the European and Asian markets. As to whether Pitt’s ads will ever come to the U.S., Lalonde said: “We’ll see how it goes. Maybe in time he’ll become a global ambassador.”