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Ecclestone goes into shock advertising with stunning Hublot play
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Ecclestone goes into shock advertising with stunning Hublot play
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Dec 2010   |  1:32 pm GMT  |  93 comments

Back in the 1990s Benetton ran a series of shock adverts, devised by photographer Oliviero Toscani, which helped to define and promote the brand very quickly. They were selling sweaters, but their posters showed a man dying of Aids, a death row prisoner, a nun kissing a priest.

Now F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who was close to Benetton’s Flavio Briatore throughout those years, has revived the practice with an ad for the Hublot F1 King Power watch, the first official F1 watch.

It’s an amazing play; Hublot is a premium brand, with watches retailing for tens of thousands of pounds and this advert is going to stop people in their tracks. It’s risky, but totally inspired.


Ecclestone, 80, and his partner Fabiana Flosi were attacked by muggers outside his Princes Gate building in London last week and it was reported that the thieves stole a watch and jewellery worth over £200,000. Ecclestone dimissed these numbers, but in an inspired turn-around he has had himself photographed post-assault with a badly bruised face, saying “See what people will do for a Hublot.”

The ad sums up so much about Ecclestone; his sense of humour, his commercial eye and above all his toughness – can you imagine what a kicking like that would be like at any age, let alone for an 80 year old?

The advert provides its own complex social commentary; what kind of people would do this to an 80 year old man? What does it say about a person’s right to wealth and to have such expensive items on their wrist making them a target.

And it will cause the general public to see Ecclestone in a different light, although the ads are mainly targetted at media outlets catering to high net worth individuals.

One of Toscani's most memorable shock ads


According to Wikipedia, “Advertisers, psychiatrists, and social scientists have long debated the effectiveness of shock advertising. Some scientists argue that shocking ads of course evokes stronger feelings among the consumers. One finding suggests “shocking content in an advertisement significantly increases attention, benefits memory, and positively influences behavior.” The same study also shows that consumers are more likely to remember shocking advertising content over advertising content that is not shocking. Shock advertising could also refer to the usage of emotional appeals such as humor, sex or fear. Humor has for a long time been the most frequently used communication tool within advertising, and according to branch active people it is considered to be the most effective.”

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93 Comments
  1. MichaelH says:

    That’s very very clever

    1. Phil Bishop says:

      +1

      1. Wayne says:

        This story is a perfect metaphor for the way Bernie has lived his life. Anyone who wants to know anything about Bernie as a businessman need only read this article. Good on him say I!

    2. Steve Dalby says:

      I agree, immensely clever… or not…

      Wear a Hublot and get the S!!T kicked out of you…

      …but from a sense of humor perspective awesome.

  2. Iain Heath says:

    Good on him, proves he has a sense of humour. Just wish I could afford one of the watches :-)

    1. Steve says:

      I can do you a good deal on one! Second hand, one careful owner. Just don’t ask where I got it from ;-)

  3. James D says:

    Fair play to him.

    Maybe they should use that photo in a mugging awareness campaign with his comment he made about muggers in Brazil:

    “They look for victims, they look for anyone who looks like a soft touch and not too bright. People who look a bit soft and simple, they will always have a go at.”

    1. frosty says:

      i agree.
      using this photo (without the advert) in a mugging awareness campaign would be more appropriate.

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      good point

    3. richie675 says:

      he also said, in defence of the best f1 calendar track, that muggings happen anywhere, not just brazil, and that he’s been mugged in london a number of times before….

  4. Marty McSuperfly says:

    Did Bernie get paid to do this ad?

    1. Sebee says:

      Of course he didn’t.
      …and Belgium, Montreal, Interlagos, Silverstone are also getting a 20% discount on hosting fees due to new found generousity.

    2. Phil Bishop says:

      of course he did

    3. Bec says:

      No. It was Mr.E’s idea, and Hublot decided it was so inspired they ran with it.

      Subliminally it seems to be saying:
      “Hublot owners won’t let the buggers get you down”

    4. Tim. says:

      You bet he did…it is Bernie…he gets paid to say good morning…

    5. Jo Torrent says:

      Bernie get paid for breathing let alone an ad !

    6. Bollo says:

      Is there no end to what this man will do for money???

      a) does he need it – no
      b) what does it acheive apart from showing him ready and willing to make a buck where ever and when ever? – nothing

      Even when he is touchable he is laughing all the way to the bank.

      For all the technology, glitz and excitment of F1 to be held to ransom time and time again by a supremely greedy Gollum like character eternally drives me nuts!

      1. Courant Cramoisi says:

        Gollum! Of COURSE!

        Not only is that the most amusing comment, it also is the best, most accurate description of him! He is truly the most loathsome, repugnant, abominable character in racing. He definitely looks like someone you wouldn’t want to have to share a tent with on a camping trip, nor would you want him to be your child’s Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts leader.

        He also always looks as if he should have a tongue that shoots out of his mouth and licks his eyeballs to clean them…in classic “slimy reptile style”. That permanent haughty sneer on his mouth, the Andy Warhol haircut…you just KNOW that this guy snatches grasshoppers from low-hanging branches (make that VERRRRRRY LOW-HANGING branches) with a long sticky tongue…

        For all the times he’s made me angry enough to punch him…well…that picture makes this Christmas season that much more warm, festive and cheery for me. :)

      2. Bollo says:

        You just made my day. Cleaning his eyeballs with his tongue! Golden and most likely accurate!

      3. Bernie the Gollum says:

        Cursesss the little Hublot thieveses. They stole my precious they did. I’ll takes their free-to-air TV coverages and throws them into the pit of Mount Doom (aka Fox network).

    7. Marty McSuperfly says:

      Yeah, well I kinda figured. lol.
      Maybe he should donate the fee to ‘Help the Aged’ (a UK based charity).
      Not every pensioner that gets mugged has the opportunuty to use it to flog some watches.

      1. Curro says:

        I have no way of knowing but most probably he has donated it. He loves to make money, not necessarily keep it all (got too much already..!). And he’s a tough old man, that’s clear. If he’s able to stand that beating at 80 imagine a contract negotiation, maybe he’s also sending a message to race promoters out there… :)

    8. Craig says:

      Even if he didn’t get paid to do the ad, it’s an “official F1 watch”, which means that Hublot paid FOM for the right to use the F1 name, which means Bernie made money.

    9. Ian says:

      Maybe Hublot gave him a new watch for free!

  5. Ralf F says:

    Hi James, a suggestion to improve the site: Whenever you post pictures in your blog, can you also post a higher resolution version accessible when you click it? Because now when you click an image, the same image in the same size opens. Here I cannot read the text on the ad, I wish I could without having to google it! Also I wish I could see more details in the fantastic pictures you often post. Thanks!

    1. C says:

      This is a good suggestion for the improvement of the general good. Take it to heart, James!

  6. Steve McGill says:

    Goodon him. I think it’s a real ‘one up’ on the attackers who may see the advert and realise he’s made even more money than them from their antics…

    Has a figure been disclosed of his fee???!!!

    1. Bec says:

      Steve, Mr.E was not paid for the advert.

  7. Steve L 1973 says:

    Takes a kickin and keeps on tickin.

    1. Sebee says:

      Ok, you deserve props for this one.

  8. Sebee says:

    All jokes aside, I think it’s repulsive to do this to someone for a watch. We could also discuss if it is at all repulsive to pay that much for one, or to charge that much. I’m all for fine time pieces, but I for one rarely look at my watch since I have an accurate watch my mobile.

    James, I often read about generous acts on this page. Not to get high and mighty but it would be lovely to know how much FOM gives to worthy causes each year. I think it’s the type of subject we can catch up on during off season.

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t know about FOM but Bernie gives a lot to charity I’m told. He does quite a bit of fundraising for NSPCC, as well.

    2. Steve says:

      What anyone gives to charity should remain strictly private! I HATE it when people give to charity as a means to promoting themselves!

      1. Sebee says:

        I didn’t say Bernie, I said FOM. [mod]

        It would be nice to know that a rich sport is taking a leadership role in various efforts.

        And as far as this ad goes, it would have also increased in value if some funds from each sale were dedicated to an elderly crime prevention effort. We all know it is a targetted group. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m sure hublot has the margin for it.

      2. Søren Kühle says:

        That’s a pretty stern view.
        I bet you that the perhaps thousands of people benefitting from charity money really don’t mind that guys like mr E get’s promoted.

        To be able to give to others what you really don’t need yourself. That’s the true power of money, and something every rich person that I know of is doing. because it feels right.

      3. Sebee says:

        Well said. Bill Gates the perfect example.

  9. Alexx says:

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

  10. Stevie P says:

    Don’t tell me… it’s a Black-Eyed E ;-)

    1. Stevie P says:

      And…

      When he’s re-negotiating the commercial contracts… “I’ve got feeling… that’s this deal’s gonna be a good deal…”

      Ok, I’ll get me coat… :-)

  11. kowalsky says:

    the rufians might be thinking to get him again. He made some money at their expense. Look out bernie. You wanted to be a millionaire, and live like a regular guy. May be the add is not going to help you achieve that goal.

    1. James Allen says:

      I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. No doubt there was CCTV footage

      1. Craig says:

        I’m a little bit surprised that Bernie didn’t have a bodyguard. He frequently pi$$es people off, and to use his own words, is a bit of a soft touch, if only because of his age (not suggesting he’s ‘simple’). I wonder if he’ll consider employing a big man to follow him around now.

      2. monktonnik says:

        I have to admit that after the feeling of repulsion that anyone would beat up an 80yr old, particularly since they had already got the goods, I felt that the culprits are probably the stupidest criminals alive.

        Does anyone really believe that they are going to get away with this? If I were them I would hope that there was CCTV and that the Police get to them first!

      3. frosty says:

        have they been caught?

  12. theRoswellite says:

    Over the last decade I have often “bashed” Mr. Ecclestone’s positions relevant to his financial interests vs the present and future interests of F1.

    It is certainly sad to see him as an actual victim of such a violent street crime, but not surprising that he has found a way to utilize the event in a commercial way.

    Speedy recovery.

  13. GP says:

    I guess we can see how people like Ron Dennis, Frank Williams and the rest of the team owners could never intimidate him!

    I hope we’re not being duped by make-up to make it look worse than it is…

    1. Bollo says:

      Make-up can hide a multiude of sins, or create them…

  14. TIKO PAVONI says:

    Brilliant bit of Ad work…

  15. Steve W says:

    That is a classic Bernie Ecclestone move!!!

  16. Paul D says:

    Bernie is a unique character – nothing surprises me with him!!

    I’d love to read his autobiography on day!

  17. Nick says:

    Great idea. Terrible execution. Look at the simplicity of the benetton ad and then look at this. Could have been much cooler.

    1. Marty McSuperfly says:

      agree, it almost looks fake, or that they just used the police evidence photo.

  18. Lilla My says:

    He definitely knows how to use every single opportunity he has!
    It also shows some sense of humour. Good on him ;-).

  19. Michael says:

    Only Bernie could make a profit from getting mugged!

  20. Peter C says:

    Journalist Goes Into Shock with Bowl of CocoPops.

  21. frosty says:

    i don’t mean to say anything against Bernie as i am an admirer of his. and the attack was horrible.
    but i have to say, this doesn’t seem very tasteful.

    It’s saying the watch is so great it’s worth assaulting an 80 year old for.

    IF image was published to front an anti-street crime campaign, i’d understand the ‘very very clever’ type comments.

    this is just inappropriate.

    1. Sebee says:

      We are in agreement, it could have gone a level higher by doing more than selling you an overpriced watch.

      WOils anyone be surprised if BE has an ownership stake in hublot?

  22. azac21 says:

    I ‘d say, good for Ecclestone but bad for Hablot. People will appreciate his …strength of character (?) but it’s not exactly the slick-shocking Benetton ads of the early 90′s. When you buy a £10K watch you buy your share into a dream world where everything is perfect.

    Next… use the picture of an injured F1 driver?

  23. Tim Parry says:

    Good for Bernie – no fear! A word about shock advertising, or any advertising for that matter – if it’s well thought out and executed, it will work. The Benetton ads you referenced were great for a while, certainly in the award shows of the era. But they were like heroin. Each ad had to out-shock the previous one. After a while, the ads became more important than the product. It provides a good object lesson for those of us in the business.

  24. Matt says:

    What ever floats your boat Bernie and Hublot buyers but James I’m surprised you’re getting so carried away about it.

    This isn’t thought provoking, it’s a poor attempt at shock advertising.

  25. Lalit says:

    James,

    Everyday I come to this blog, and am hardly ever dissappointed (if at all)…

    About Bernie’s latest idea for commercial success.. well its just what only he can do isn’t it?

    Maybe you can do an article on what makes Bernie tick, it can be a phenomenal guide for all the newbies wanting to succeed…
    I read one of his interview (might be on your blog), and somebody asked him where they can find a suitable (and able) replacement for him when retires, and he promopty quipped they should search for another used car salesman :)

    1. James Allen says:

      There’s a biography of him coming out soon. Will do something then

  26. Williams4Ever says:

    This man will dig $h*t if there is money in it…Maybe the entire mugging episode was publicity stunt or actual advertising shoot

  27. Andy Fov says:

    Is it really that clever? I’m not sure how inspired it is to point out to would-be purchasers of Hublot watches that they’re potentially inviting a violent assault.

  28. Wintermute says:

    Great ad, but I’ll stick with my Tag Heuer Ayrton Senna Link.

    1. Sebee says:

      Personally I’m fond of those 70s LED watches. Just got a Commodore model for $80. I’m sure I won’t take a beating for it.

  29. Jo Torrent says:

    Bernie is as handsome before and after the attack, isn’t he ?

  30. Rich C says:

    hahahahhah… made me lol! right on, Bernie!

  31. Jo Torrent says:

    Why is the ugly Joe Saward after you James. He’s jalous of your blog bigger audience I guess.

      1. Greg says:

        Ah, just had to go and have a look to find out what JO was saying……..

        I guess it’s regarding to the CoCo Pops advert??

        James, are you trying to keep up with Bernie in the advertisement business?

      2. Ambient Sheep says:

        I take it the coffee didn’t go well then… :-(

  32. bones says:

    He is amazing,80 yrs old,running a multimillion dollars company,have the spirit to get over a kicking like that.
    James,in case something unexpected happens to him,who is legally the number 2?

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question, don’t know, but there was a significant signing today with the man who made the 02 centre great, David Campbell quitting AEG to join FOM and Paddy McNally announcing his retirement.

  33. Nando says:

    Good on him! A nice watch ruined by F1 branding, suppose he’ll sell a few to the brown-noses.

  34. Gavin says:

    I expect he at least got a replacement watch.

  35. Peter says:

    I have to admit I had a wee chuckle when I read that. Very clever and very funny and good on Bernie for doing it. Will anything take that man down? I doubt it.

  36. Matt W says:

    Of course not many people of Bernies ages so easily recover from that kind of attack. Fair play to Bernie, but maybe he should also make a donation to victims of crime for those less fortunate.

  37. Dan Sumption says:

    I love the tiny photo of the ad – at that size, it looks as though “F1™KING POWER” says something completely different.

    1. Bollo says:

      Good Pickup.

    2. Ian says:

      Genius, oh the irony.

      Love it.

  38. Axu says:

    That particular watch is designed in bad taste; the Hublot brand is generally very loud, also. And it’s incredibly overpriced.

    A bit like Mr E himself, I might say.

    The ad is very crude. I can hear the Hublot marketing guy: “Make the watch bigger. I said bigger!…” Why not make a version twice the size, to be strapped around the neck? :)

    If I’d have that kind of spare change, I would spend it on something with a lot more heritage and thrill-value. Like an E30 M3 Cecotto.

  39. Stephen Kellett says:

    Never seen the point of over-priced watches. Even less so the over-sized Hublot watches.

    Who needs a watch that is good to 50m depth in water? How many of us ever go there? And if we did, would we be worried about the watch or our lives?

    As Mr E, yes very smart. But for the overpriced watches, I’ll pass.

  40. Oliver N says:

    For masterminding the castration of a once great sport in the headlong pursuit of a buck or billion, I suspect there is a line of people who would do it for a lot less than a watch.

    Not that I remotely condone that kind of activity of course.

  41. Racergil says:

    James
    To compare this to the genius of the Benetton campaigns is far short of the mark. What Benetton did was a benchmark in the history of advertising. They really pushed the envelope of visual media. I remember that the first one that I saw on a Time’s Square poster showing a baby duck covered in oil had a massive impact on me. These campaigns brought world wide notoriety to a brand, with immense impact. While I agree that this is clever, I would say that it is more opportunistic than anything else at this stage of the game. As many have suggested, I think his notoriety would have been better used in ways some people have suggested here, to represent the disgrace of attacks on seniors.

  42. Mark V. says:

    Headline: “80 year old billionaire gets beat up, has watch stolen. Gets revenge by printing ads of his beaten face. Gets both pity and respect for being a tough guy. Reaps financial rewards.”

    Old men are the victims of violence everyday, usually for a lot less than a piece of overpriced jewelery, but unfortunately few of them are in the position to capitalize on it. Nowhere do I see any mention of this sad fact in Bernie’s ad, only his battered mug placed there to shill some useless product. THAT is shocking.

  43. Derek Lorimer says:

    My admiration for Bernie has gone up a lot. He is a brave man.

  44. Frankie says:

    Stunning? having Bernie endorse any product under normal circumstances can only lead to reduce sales in my book. The only logical extension to that is that the reason Bernie got a black eye was down to Hublot, is that really what they want to imply.

    As for Bernie, you can’t fault him even in these moments.

  45. MJM says:

    James,

    While its obviously very upsetting to see something like that happen to anyone, it’s great that Mr E. has turned the situation around and found something positive he can take from it.

    I think we could all learn from this. Even when something terrible happens, we should think about how to turn it the situation around and move on rather than dwelling on things and letting them get us down.

    In any event, please wish Mr E. a speedy recovery.

  46. Tyler says:

    I agree with others here… the old man is full of smart moves… this one is full of character and a pleasant suprise.

  47. Ben says:

    Agree with you, a truly brilliant advertising play.

  48. Ian says:

    “Look what the peasants did to my face”.

    Nuff said.

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