I’ve had enough. Every other day, for weeks, months, and years, my inbox has virtually slapped me in the face with a “MEDIA ALERT.” The other day when, as I said, I’ve had enough, I decided to set up a filter in my inbox to automatically trash any email with the phrase “media alert.” Straight to trash, don’t ever want to see this again. Then, in a moment of clarity, I self-reflected and asked myself, why am I so upset? Well, there are a few reasons, and all of them are related to brands I like, so here goes.

First, “MEDIA ALERT” sounds like such an arrogant way to enter someone’s inbox, inelegant and unbefitting any self-respecting luxury brand. Sure, had the manufacture burned down overnight — MEDIA ALERT. Someone found a stash of a million steel Daytonas — MEDIA ALERT. Eighty percent of gold watches contain untraceable gold — MEDIA ALERT. I think you get where my threshold for an “alert” lies. But to suggest that anyone, media or otherwise, should be alerted because a celebrity, the Pope, or the reincarnation of Elvis Presley was seen wearing a watch a stylist or agent strapped to their wrist, is a stretch. More of a stretch is bombarding people’s inboxes constantly with this nonsense that suggests, to me at least, that the messenger brand’s values no longer resonate with me — and also probably some of my fellow watch enthusiasts.

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Second, in my previous Grinding Gears column, I said I Wish Major Brands Would Return To Promoting Watchmaking Values, and that aligns with but does not fully cover what I am about to say here. To be clear, I don’t want to suggest that brands should stop decorating celebrities with their products — mind you, often at tremendous expense. Seeing watches in the limelight, especially on the wrists of celebrities audience members care about, is one of the ways some folks first spot and begin to care about watches. I reckon it should, however, be done in a more discreet, more organic way, that feels more like a personal choice as opposed to a fleeting moment of product display. On a related note, brands love to embellish their expensively contracted “ambassadors” with a wide range of watches, often with a different piece for every event, a practice that further destroys the authenticity and the idea of any of this being a real and honest personal choice.

Media Alert: Absolute absence of substance or meaning.

Third, a lot of these media alerts are not only annoying but also absolutely useless in their presentation. Most all are poorly formatted, and contain no useable attachments such as detailed descriptions of the watches — further underlining the shallowness of these messages — or high-resolution images — which you’d certainly need, as the watches are often impossible to see, let alone appreciate, on the wrists of these celebrities. My absolute favorite, though, is disclaimers such as “[BRAND] does not own these images, and this email message does not grant you any rights in or to these images.” While it is admirable that a brand respects the copyright of hard-working photographers, it is rather odd that it repeatedly fails to support said artists by purchasing these images or hiring them to cover these events for them. So what is left is a “MEDIA ALERT” email with blurry, watermarked images with hardly any meaningful information, and none that could be passed on to an audience — watch enthusiast or otherwise.

Last, I am not sure that the brands are correct in assuming that the greater population is not utterly tired of following what celebrities are wearing or that it unfailingly believes these to be their personal preferences. Yes, brands scoring high-profile athletes or movie stars can efficiently exhibit the purchasing power and gravitas of a company, but the content of these media alerts is never anywhere near that magnitude. If anything, they reveal just how many red-carpet events there are in a year (too many), and how utterly meaningless each and every one of them is, not to mention the unimportant wardrobe choices of the dozens and hundreds of attendees. This is not a scoff at the fashion or movie industry at large, but rather a very direct criticism of this specific thing called “MEDIA ALERT” used to shove into people’s faces what folks were told to wear for a night. I can’t find anything of substance in any of that — let alone horological substance — and so, I think I’ll go and create that inbox filter now. But what about you? How much do you care about what celebrities are wearing on the red carpet?

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