Differences in Portrayal
In 1770 the self-winding watch was the best way to tell time. Now there are cheaper, more accurate alternatives, but the self-winding watch industry still has sales of over a billion dollars a year (Watch Winder’s Guide). These are contrasting marketing strategies by companies striving to make their viewers buy a watch that is in fact obsolete. Both print advertisements are for a luxury watch made to handle the water pressure associated with deep sea diving. Both are from companies that are known to provide a high level of craftsmanship in their pieces and they are both targeting upper end consumers with a large disposable income. While one company does this by trying to appeal to the adventurous side of the consumer, the other tries to appeal to the manliness of the consumer.
In the first image a Rolex advertisement, a diver, Lewis Gordon Pugh, is facing the camera. The only part of him that’s visible is his face, excluding the lowest part of that which is submerged in the water along with the rest of his body. He looks almost frozen, the water that should be running down his face looks as if it has crystalized. His eyebrows although black look frosted by the water that has frozen over them. His yellow swimmer’s cap and goggles share this same frosted look. Looking at him you expect to see his breath with the next exhale and you know that he must be very cold. The other side of the advertisement is a quote from the man “I might die, but I will swim”. This very macho statement appeals to men who wish to be perceived as strong or powerful. The rest of the text is about his swimming accomplishments from long distance swimming in all oceans to being the only person to long distance swim in the Arctic Ocean, the setting that this ad is representing.
In Omega’s ad there are two divers pictured but they are not the main focus, and with their blue colored wetsuits they aren’t even noticeable at first glance. This effectively keeps the main focus on the watch. The warm blue color of the water and the small swimming fish make the scene look inviting, the bubbles from the divers’ air tanks hint at depth but the viewer does not know how far down the divers are but the entire setting feels relaxing. Since the divers faces are not shown it allows the viewer to see themselves in the divers’ position.
The contrasting ocean choices help target the intended customer. The Omega ad pictured in a tropical area allows for the viewer to think about going on their own vacation in warm waters and that maybe they’ll need a new watch they can wear and enjoy while diving. The Rolex advertisement while also in water shows the Arctic Ocean the coldest ocean, and somewhere no one really wants to swim. This along with using the long distance swimmer brings the viewer’s attention the idea that the Rolex is capable of extreme conditions. For a viewer this shows that the watch is up for any challenge, just like they are. If Rolex worked for Pugh it will work for them too.
The focal point of the Omega advertisement is the watch perched upon the coral. Tropical fish are swimming around it and the divers are swimming up to it almost like they’re searching for lost treasure which could be this watch. Light is coming through the water, first shinning on the brand’s name and model and then expanding to shine on the whole watch with pieces of the band shimmering as the light hits it. This uses of light helps to focus the attention even more on the watch; it is also the largest thing on the ad and the closest to the viewer. Doing this makes the viewer feel as if they could just reach out and grab the watch The Omega’s black face, silver band and case contrasts well with the colorful coral reef and bright ocean.
Unlike the Omega, the Rolex is the secondary focus, in its ad but it is still very noticeable because it is right below the text talking about the long distance swimmer. Because many people would not know who Lewis Gordon Pugh is they may take the time to look at the text, and then their eyes would be drawn to the watch. The Rolex watch like the Omega watch has a black face and silver band and case but the lighting is different so the darkness of the Rolex stands out against the light blue sky and ocean. On a second look though, the watch is even more noticeable than the man because he is so pale that he almost blends into the sky behind him.
The fish in the Omega advertisement although slightly distracting to the focal point, add the tropical feel which helps the viewer and potential consumer to see themselves going on a tropical vacation while wearing the Omega watch hopefully to find similar fish and a colorful coral reef like to the ones in the advertisement. Both settings are in ocean waters with divers pictured, but while one company decided to make the diver the focal point the other makes the watch itself the point of focus. The oceans are also very different from one advertisement to the other. With these two different settings both ads are trying to call attention the fact that their watches are able to handle diving in deep waters. Another thing that these ads both have in common is that they aren’t focused on telling the consumer how well their product works with numbers and statistics, but rather using imagery to create associations between deep sea diving and their watches.
Although both advertisements are trying to get the viewer to purchase very similar luxury watches made for deep sea diving they take dissimilar approaches to try and make this happen. Both companies are luxury brands and appeal to the customers’ wants rather than their needs. The Rolex ad focuses on the extremes. How well the watch can handle cold water as well as the depth it is able to withstand. This watch wants you to take it with you while engaging in extreme sports. The Omega ad focuses on being a dream watch. They want you to feel that this is the watch you should be wearing if you go diving on a tropical vacation. Both advertisements although successful in their message differ on what they want to be seen about their watches. Doing this helps to differentiate between their products, because really they are quite similar in looks, capabilities and price.