Client Spotlight: Tourneau Watchmaker Program

by Sharp | October 28, 2014

While Sharpies on the Tourneau account are usually securing top tier coverage for the retailer’s beautiful timepieces, they recently executed a strategic PR campaign to raise visibility for how the luxury watch retailer is giving back by changing the lives of at-risk youth in New York City.

For eight weeks every fall and spring, Tourneau turns a section of their Queens, NY watchmaker facility into an horology classroom for the next generation of watchmakers (a trade that has seen declining numbers since the 1950s). Their teacher is Tourneau’s Technical Director, Terry Irby, a third-generation watchmaker, who handpicks the students himself from Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School.

Since the story had never been told to the media before, our strategy began with a national exclusive, which we landed with the “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.” Correspondent Harry Smith spent the day with Terry and his students at the facility, resulting in an emotional segment featuring Edwin, a former student now apprenticing at Tourneau.

Next, we put a business spin on the story and scored a radio segment with an affluent audience on “Marketplace Morning Report,” airing on NPR stations across the country. And for the spring 2014 session’s final class, Sharp worked with Tourneau to create a graduation ceremony that celebrated the students’ accomplishments with local and trade media in attendance. The event resulted in several more TV, print and online stories touting the great work being done at Tourneau to transform the lives of these eager students.

This fall, Terry has nine fresh students to introduce to watchmaking. We invited Wall Street Journal reporter Sophia Hollander to come to Long Island City to meet the students, which resulted in an article that highlights how their lives have turned around thanks to the newfound confidence they have from being a part of Tourneau’s watchmaking program.

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The PR campaign has been a huge success for Tourneau, including an outpouring of support and equipment donations from brand partners, which will help the program serve more students in the future. That’s a good thing because the PR buzz has students lining up to be in Terry’s next class, which will give them more than just 15 minutes of fame – these lessons are timeless.

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