Image#2: Patek Philippe Watch Advertisement
Comprising the majority of this ad is a photograph presented in black and white. The picture is a cropped long shot showing the bow of a boat, surrounded by water. Two figures are centralized within the image, both of whom are male—a boy (on the left side), and a man (right side). The boy appears to be between the ages of 7-10, he is wearing a striped shirt and knee high shorts, along with a lifejacket. The other figure, the man — is somewhere between the ages of 35-45, with a neat shortly cut hairstyle. He’s wearing a dark jacket overtop a sweater and a button collared shirt. The sleeves of his jacket are rolled up to his forearm and a watch is visible on his wrist. He’s positioned kneeling down next to the boy holding the end of a rope.
The bottom ¼ of the page is filled with a rectangular box, brown in colour, which is used as a backing for the text and images. On the right side of the box is a silver bodied watch with a phthalo (dark blue) face. The watch also has two smaller dials on the bottom of its face. Pictured next to the watch are two cuff links, both are silver and blue colour which match the watches colours. In the centre-left side of the box are two captions which read “You never actually own a Patek Philippe.” followed by “You merely look after it for the next generation.” In the top right-hand corner of the ad sits a logo and placed beneath it is the caption “Patek Philippe” “Geneva” and a line underneath it which reads “Begin your own tradition”
Advertisers use a black and white photograph to imply simplicity, Elegance and sophistication. The high contrast effect gives a strong presence, as well as an overall feeling of power to the image. Secondly the high contrast of the image gives a fixed feeling within the movement of the figures— it can be taken almost as a memory, as if the viewer were recalling a definite point in time. The black and white helps create a ‘timeless’ feel, and supports the idea that this product is an heirloom quality watch, which will last generations.
The imagery brings the focus towards the centre; the focal points within the images are the two figures, the man and the boy. Upon quickly scanning the image the viewer comes to the conclusion that this man plays as the father figure to the boy. They both fit the stereotypical roles between a father and child. The boy wears a lifejacket signifying his inexperience, while at the same time the man is not wearing a lifejacket, yet he is able to appear fashionable and well kempt—bestowing a sense of experience and confidence which is interpolated by the viewer. The man’s hair and clothing style is refined, conveying that he is affluent, likely upper class, enjoying a chic lifestyle filled with matching luxury watch/cufflink sets, along with the means to be an avid sailor. He likely has a high paying job, and although he may be considered casually dressed, his appearance signifies the targeted audience. The type of man he represents is seen by the viewer as someone who possesses knowledge and skill, regarded to be both dependable and loyal. The advertisers goal here is to attract their consumers by offering them the ultimate male desire—authority and masculinity.
The captions “You never actually own a Patek Philippe.” and “You merely look after it for the next generation.” Not only does this claim that this watch will outlast the consumer, but it also supports an emphasis on the value of family and defines the role of the male as a teacher/provider for establishing the next generation. Though the imagery within the advertisement the watch (or the idealization of it) is presented as something which the child must earn from the father, as though it were itself a skill or tool that could be utilized for success.
In the top right-hand corner of the ad sits a logo and placed beneath it is the caption “Patek Philippe” the name of the watch manufacturer—a second caption line underneath it reads “Begin your own tradition” which implores the viewer to consider their own notion of an ideal father/son dynamic—As well as the idea of passing on knowledge and skills to maintain Father’s are the basis in which men come to understand their own masculinity, and emulate themselves upon. This relationship between the father/Son, teacher/student is a popularly reoccurring, which is very affective in advertising. Men desire to emulate and become the authoritative provider, who can instil proper values of family and loyalty
Subsequently after reading the image the man assumes an authoritative position over the boy as his father/teacher and provider. Kneeing down to position himself, the man is able to watch how the boy completes the knot, appearing to be guiding the young boy through the process. Because knot tying is a skill learned through observation, which of course without proper guidance would be difficult to master, knots are typically taught generationally. We see the same act performed by almost parents who teach their children to tie shoes, by teaching them the same way they once learned themselves. Here the process of learning to tie knots is used as a metaphor for how we acquire knowledge though skills, which are passed down by generation. Focusing on the father/son relationship, advertisers seek to connect their product to the idea of being an essential step towards value, as something (such as the watch) an individual acquires through patience, loyalty and time.
Secondly, the advertisement can conjure a similar, but because the advertisement emphasizes fatherhood males that do not have children of their own may create a separate ideology. After some personal research it was discovered that black and white imagery is frequently used to illustrate when a character is reflecting on a dream or memory, the imagery in the photos evokes a memory response from a viewer, causing the individual to perhaps visualize their own father into the scene, viewing themselves as the boy, reflecting themselves within the image. This allows the viewer to connect their own meaning to the image, yet ultimately still relate to the concept of masculinity and figure authority.
The ad itself is designed with a specific focus towards wealthy corporate upper-class men—presumably fathers, who are able to own sail boats. It does little to concern it’s self with a mixed set of ideologies, only focusing its attention on one consumer niche. Their target audience may be narrow, but their demographic is white men with the most money. For that reason their target audience can be a significantly justifiable amount of the population. The product brands itself as luxury commodity, historically a watch carries the connotation of power and authority, as only the most wealthy were able to afford them, this tradition still continues today through the market of watches, where an individual’s concern lies in what the watch symbolizes rather than what it does—exemplifying the idea of commodity fetishism. The desire for a Patek Philippe watch can said to share in the symbolic nature of owning other luxury items as well, such as cars manufactured by BMW or Mercedes Benz. As with most luxury items, consumers pay for the identity associated with the commodity, often we are paying for what the brand represents in relation to our own ideals and how we view ourselves. The placement of “Geneva” which suggests authenticity and quality, giving an aura of sophistication that one might get from a Swiss watch. The creators of this ad constructed around an ideal role of a masculine authority figure, by which extent the creators use the idealization of the role of the father to commoditize. Watches manufactured by Patek Philippe represent power for those who desire them. In this regard the advertisement does little to challenge notions of preconceived stereotypes within advertising, instead it appeals to time and tradition, portraying idealized role which men strive to emulate between the authority figure and provider.