Shortlisted 2020

Lifestyle, Luxury & Fashion


Zenith Watches

Entered by:

KR Wavemaker


Zenith El Primero – A Forgotten Treasure

The Challenge

In 1969, Zenith created El Primera, the first-ever integrated automatic chronograph movement, which is still the world’s most precise series-made caliber. With an impressive beat frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour, it swiftly became a twentieth century icon. But before long, a new wave of quartz watches surged across the world, pushing out mechanical movements. The watchmaker Charles Vermot hid the plans, parts and tools required to make mechanical calibres in order to save them from destruction following the decision of the company that owned Zenith at the time to limit production to quartz watches only. Mechanical watches were again in demand in 1982 with Ebel and Roiex becoming interested in El Primera, and so Vermot gave Zenith back the production tools that he had kept safely hidden so that production could restart.

In 2019, fifty years after its launch, Zenith wanted to bring El Primero’s mechanical movement back into the spotlight. Its objectives were to raise brand awareness, tell the story of how this classic watch has stood the test of time and ultimately differentiate Zenith from its competitors as a pioneer in its industry, in an endless pursuit of technical innovation.

The Creative Solution

The story of the El Primera movement contained  many elements  to  create an entertaining piece of content. With Zenith having a fairly conservative  image, it  was key to find a way of breaking the codes of standard advertising .

To solve the brand’s challenge, the Financial Times came up with a tailor-made innovative Brand Suite. Brand Suites enable brands to talk to an audience directly and showcase their products and services in their own style, tone and voice. It drives readers to a unique destination  page hosting the brand’s content and offer opportunities for brand storytelling within an FT environment.

The fact that their readers react very positively to innovative methods (evidenced by The Financial Times’ ‘Comic Satire of the Post-Crisis World’ becoming one of the most engaged with articles of 2018) inspired the FT to come up with an inventive way to tell the unique story of El Primera: they collaborated with renowned Swiss artist Bernard Cosendai – better known as Cosey – to create a beautiful, bespoke web comic.

The creative content was developed in the form of a “webtoon” (a true Art form in South Korea) with a serious tone and realistic drawings giving the feel of a vintage graphic novel, developed as a vertical strip which makes it easier to read on smart phones.

Beyond branded content, branded entertainment has the power to offer content of greater value to Zenith’s audience. The artwork and narrative extend beyond the product to provide PR opportunities and an exclusive form of advertising with a far-reaching presence.

The uniqueness of this opportunity indeed allowed Zenith to use the content beyond the FT partnership. Commissioned  original artwork  from the comic writer will be used by the Zenith museum and across other marketing platforms, including as part of a book that will be distributed to guests at the El Primera event in Geneva.

A branded entertainment piece in the form of an illustrative comic is a first for the Financial Times, who have proved to be very disruptive in their approach, thus moving away from their image of a traditional media vendor.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

A media partnership was built with The Financial Times because:

  • They have a global reach, which was a prerequisite to give worldwide coverage to the 50th Anniversary of El Primera
  • The FT is read by a powerful and elusive audience of high net worth individuals, and they carried out research showing that the FT reaches readers with core interests in Zenith’s target areas (Watches, Travel and Arts & Culture). Insights showed that 63% of FT readers own a fine watch worth over £2.Sk and that 1 in 3 FT readers plan to purchase a luxury watch in the next 12 months. For travel, it was concluded that 7 in 10 FT readers are engaged with the sector and 28% have a set budget of $10,000+ for leisure Finally, research revealed that 82% of readers are interested in art and design, with 58% owning art or antiques.
  • Through their proprietary tool – MAP – they were able to accurately quantify the campaign’s global de-duplicated reach (per month: 1,007,238 Male 35-55, 100 kf+ salary)

Implementation-wise, homepage roadblocks ran on the first two days of the campaign to draw FT readers’ attention. To ensure Brand Suites reached the right audience, a campaign of paid social promotion (Facebook and lnstagram) and a suite of traffic drivers also ran. The traffic drivers were developed together with the FT featuring components of the comic strip. Placed on the branded traffic drivers targeted a tailor-made segment of FT readers (segment made up of first party data sources including users who browse luxury-related content on and How To Spend It; it also includes users who browse and read editorial content related to personal wealth). The traffic drivers were available in a variety of different display formats and the campaign ran worldwide.

The Result

  • The story achieved over 53,000 page views, surpassing the 51,000 target.
  • Engagement on this campaign is the highest FT had ever seen for a BRAND SUITE on (91 sec). The amount of time readers spent reading the story is 93% higher than the FT Brand Suite average.
  • 9% of readers clicked on the links at the bottom of the article to view the collection or listen to the podcast (3,839 clicks). This is 5x higher than the average click percentage we see on FT Brand Suites.
  • The series generated a lot of conversation on social media, with users commenting on the posts 141 times . The story was shared 256 times with users reacting to the posts 3,152 times.
  • 3,727,763 marketing impressions were delivered on targeted towards FT readers or the LVMH behavioural segment. This is 1,151,626 additional impressions on top of the original booking.
  • 67% of page views took place on mobile.
  • 27% of the known readers of the story hold C-Suite responsibilities. This is marginally higher than the FT BrandSuite 25% average.
  • In terms of brand impact, those exposed to the “Forgotten Treasure” content are 48% more familiar with Zenith compared to  those unexposed.
  • 31% of the users looked for more information about Zenith El Primera watches.
  • 33% visited the Zenith website.