When you hear the word Rolex, what do you think?

For many, images of success, quality, excellence, and luxury come to mind. 

And this is by no mistake. Rolex has built one of the most recognizable brands in the world on the back of a great product and brilliant marketing.

But you know this already. 

So let’s roll the clock back to the early 1900s when founder, Hans Wilsdorf, was hustling like the rest of us to make it.

He had been building his company for many years, and they just completed their latest innovation, the waterproof wristwatch. 

It was called the Rolex Oyster, and it revolutionized the industry. But like any groundbreaking product, unless people know about it, it doesn’t really matter.  

At the time, Rolex was nowhere near the icon it is today, and he was searching for creative ways to prove they were a reliable brand. 

So he turned to influencer marketing. 

That’s right. 

The highly overused buzzword in the present advertising environment was a pillar of Rolex’s early branding strategy. 

Wilsdorf heard about a British woman named Mercedes Gleitzes, who was attempting to swim the English Channel, and he quickly realized a golden marketing opportunity to promote his latest creation. 

What better way to advertise a waterproof watch then by having this badass lady swim with it in freezing cold water while the media followed her every stroke?  

And that’s precisely what they did. 

Rolex Influencer Marketing
Example of Rolex Pioneering Influencer Marketing: Frontpage advertisement of the Daily Mail

You certainly can’t credit Rolex as the originator of influencer marketing. But they were pioneers in using ambassadors to market their products effectively. 

The above ad featuring Mercedes and her testimonial about the Oyster’s performance during the swim was the start of the brand finding their true identity. 

Over the following decade, Rolex would continue to sponsor outliers who set out to achieve the unordinary. 

This strategy eventually transitioned to superstar athletes and cultural icons, never missing an opportunity to integrate their brand with greatness.     

Through these types of marketing innovations, Rolex has become the symbol of success and achievement. 

This is why branding is so powerful and why the word Rolex invokes a particular emotion to anyone who hears it across the globe.

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