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Timex Licked

This week the New York Times announced that Timex was dropping its famous tagline "Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking" and replacing it with "Timex. Life is Ticking". BuzzSponge loves K&B's work. We suspect that they made the best of a bad situation. Well, maybe only a fairly bad situation--they did win the account from Fallon after all. We digress. The unfortunate situation for K&B was being laden with a client who seems to be trying to make his mark at the expense of the business.

For a company like Timex, where "history" is a cornerstone of its "brand essence" the strategic decision to go au courant seems a poor fit.

In the Times Article, the Chief Marketing Officer argues that quality and durability were no longer unique claims for a watchmaker and that they needed a way to "take the brand forward". What about the Timex "Ironman" watches? Furthermore, in an economic environment like today's, quality and value for the money are purchase considerations that show no sign of going out of style.

"It takes a licking and keeps on ticking' was very consistent with a durability message, and was very effective, but durability is now almost a given because as technologies have improved, people have caught on to it. Our thought was, is there a way to evolve beyond durability, to look for that something that captures more of the spirit and mindset of today." CMO, Timex

Does that rationale justify replacing the campain ranked #40 in Ad Age's list of the 100 Best Ads of the Century? Stuart Elliot suggests that the awareness and recall numbers alone don't justify the switch. Putting "Timex" in the new line was a nice way to guarantee that those awareness numbers stay up when the tracking studies are fielded six months from now.

Unfortunately, we feel that historic Timex may be shaping up to be just another new-millenial marketing casualty a la Levis, Gap and Reebok. As CEO's and CFO's continue to view advertising and marketing as "expenses" and "sales levers" rather than investments in intangible value/goodwill, expect to see more flavor of the month, short-term, short-sighted marketing decisions such as the Timex debacle.

Timex was saavy in the short-term. The immediate PR benefits alone may justify cutting the famous tagline loose. However, we question whether the decision to create a new line that better reflects "today" is the sound decision for Timex of the future? Wouldn't it have been more precient to unleash the creative firepower at Kirshenbaum on executing new, exciting means of leveraging Timex's media buy? With a national ad budget of $6 million, perhaps Kirshenbaum has no choice but to find innovative means of getting the word out.

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