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Ecclestone goes into shock advertising with stunning Hublot play
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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“Look what the peasants did to my face”.

Nuff said.


Agree with you, a truly brilliant advertising play.


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



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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Genius, oh the irony.

Love it.


Good Pickup.


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.


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.


I expect he at least got a replacement watch.


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


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?


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.


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


Who cares?


I take it the coffee didn’t go well then… 🙁


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?


hahahahhah… made me lol! right on, Bernie!


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


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


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.


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.


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



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 🙂


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


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.

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