We can be safe in assuming that Edward Norton was richly compensated for being Italian watch designer “Breil’s” newest brand ambassador. The contract stipulates that for the next two years, Norton will be the primary face for all of Breil’s print advertising. He gets to wear the watch for hours while photographers attempt to capture his “essence” and transfer than to the watch. Norton is actually an interesting choice for Breil, and probably not the first person you’d think that a watch company would choose. Virtually everyone in the watch industry is extremely conservative and highly conscious of image. Personally, I am a huge fan of Ed Norton (and I’ll watch basically anything he is in), but you have to consider his image based on the most popular movies he has been in.
So when I hear of Ed Norton, I think of some specific movies he has been in. Recently, he was in another new “The Hulk” movie. Mostly he wore a Polar heart-rate watch to make sure he didn’t turn into the Hulk. He destroyed this watch a number of times as he turned into the Hulk, and was running from “the law” half the time. Then you have “The People Versus Larry Flint.” In this excellent movie discussing the power of the First Amendment and the evolution of American adult magazines, you have Norton playing an attorney who defends the often frustrating porn-god, Larry Flint; who at one point convinces Norton to maintain his representation because Larry Flint is too fun and interesting to drop as a client. Then you have American History X, where Norton walks around neo-Nazi-esque complete with shaved head and tattoos, until realizing the err of his ways only to watch his brother get killed doing the same thing. Probably not the best face for any watch brand, at least coming from that movie. Finally, I always fondly think of Fight Club. What a great movie that was, even though author Chuck Palahniuk’s book was a complex read. Here you have the two-faced Norton starting… well, a fight club, living in a condemned house, causing overall mayhem, with… as I believe it was called, “project mayhem,” and providing audiences with many a black-eyed head shot. I really loved that movie.
Of course Norton has been in plenty of other movies but these are the ones that initially come to mind. So putting aside what the consumer association may be with Norton, lets focus on what all this means for him. Being a watch brand ambassador is not all fun and games. Sure you need to spend hours dolled up in front of a camera swapping watches and wardrobe, but there is so much more. Basically, Norton cannot be see wearing anything other than a Breil watch until his contract is up. That is a pretty steep price if you ask me, especially since Breil watches are nice, but not movie start nice. We are talking about watches that are a few hundred bucks, as opposed to ones which run with a higher league of watch. Imagine him getting together with pals, each has a $5,000 – $20,000 watch on, and Norton has a $700 Breil. He is basically gonna have to say, “I’m getting $5 mil a year to wear this, screw all of you.” Actually I am not sure how much he is making a year on this, but I hope it is at least that.
Watch companies are dead serious about these contracts and “ambassador relationships.” They will do what it takes to preserve the responsibilities of the celebrities they compensate for the visibility. Breil’s female ambassador is Charlize Theron (also a good choice). While she has had no problems with Breil, she did have a particularly nasty law suit with Raymond Weil, another watch brand that she previously had a representation agreement with. Being seen wearing a Christian Dior watch at a charity function, Raymond Weil sued Theron for $20 million, arguing that being seen with a competitor’s watch undermined the advertising campaign 100%. Silly? Yea I think so, but it is a illustration of how serious the watch brands take this. The suit by Raymond Weil against Theron is ongoing to my knowledge.
So, moving back to Norton, he is going to have to stick to wearing Breil watch in most all public places for a while. I really hope that Breil gives him most every male watch they have. I’ve had some experiences with Breil watch, and the fit and finish is good, and the looks are interesting. I don’t know if I could wear one everyday, but there are certainly enough good watches in their line-up. Though I do wish they had more mechanical models. Watch for Breil print ads featuring Edward Norton to start popping up this month.
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