NEW YORK As part of a strategy to introduce the 2011 Hampton collection and rebrand itself as a leading producer of classic timepieces, Baume & Mercier planned an elaborate three-day trip to Montauk over Memorial Day weekend. The Swiss brand invited more than 60 journalists from 20 countries to participate in the press junket, which involved three dinners, two lunches, four workshops, and seven different activity-driven outings.
“The main objective and direction given was to create an experience that educated the guests about the new positioning of the brand, immersing them in an authentic Hamptons experience and telling the story of the organic relationship between Baume & Mercier and the Hamptons lifestyle,” said Ryan Jordan, creative director at Harrison & Shriftman and head of the firm's new experiential division Studio HS. Jordan worked with a team of four, an on-site crew, and Baume & Mercier's in-house marketing and communications executives Rachel Leung and Patricia Ramos.
The weekend started at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where Baume & Mercier hostesses greeted journalists at the terminals and ushered them to a V.I.P. lounge set up in a nearby hotel. This space was decorated with blue-and-white candles, and the brand offered massages and fresh smoothies to guests while they waited for the entire party to arrive. Once gathered, the group set off for the Montauk Yacht Club on a chartered luxury liner, where Tate’s cookies and coconut water were served, while the Diane Keaton-Jack Nicholson film Something’s Gotta Give—set in the Hamptons—helped get the guests acclimated to their destination.
Over the course of the next two days, Baume & Mercier set about maximizing the journalists' time in the Hamptons and, in particular, Montauk. This entailed a calculated series of off-site workshops and recreational activities in keeping with the brand’s new “Life is all about moments” tagline, to place the new collection in the proper context.
“We could have recreated this in Biarritz or La Balue, but it’s about being authentic,” said Baume & Mercier C.E.O. Alain Zimmerman. Aside from the “product D.N.A.” workshop, which took place at the hotel, other labs—on brand fashion/history and development, production, and design—were presented in a rotating schedule. The sites for these included the Montauk Lighthouse, where Kelly Killoren Bensimon provided a timeline of Hamptons history; the Vered Art Gallery in East Hampton; and the Pollock-Krasner House, the former home of artists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner.
To pull it off, the event required a considerable amount of planning and foresight, if, for nothing else, to take into account the erratic climate of late spring. (On the first evening, unexpectedly chilly weather forced organizers to bring dinner indoors at the Surf Lodge.) The entire affair was formulated last October. “The difficulty was more logistical—in finding places that could accommodate 80 people yet offer a genuine experience,” Jordan said.
Indeed, in a concerted effort to rebuild the Baume & Mercier brand through a visual approach, the company returned to the iconic Wainscott estate Kilkare House, where the current spring ad campaign was photographed, to host a lunch and meet-and-greet with the family that starred in the ad.
“The idea is to be authentic but also inspiring,” said Gregor Riekena, Baume & Mercier’s international marketing and communications director, who, although he declined to disclose the budget, did confirm the event was the largest public relations initiative the brand has ever undertaken. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to anchor ourselves in the Hamptons,” he added. “We wanted guests to leave with a very good feeling, a very intense feeling of our brand universe.”