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Strategy

“Novak Djokovic is a legend, an opinion leader”

The Swiss watchmaking brand Hublot recently signed the number one tennis player Novak Djokovic. The opportunity for Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of the brand, to explain the strategic repositioning of the Maison, after automotive sponsoring came to a stop.

Cristina D’Agostino

By Cristina D’Agostino31 août 2021

Novak Djokovic, the new brand ambassador of Hublot (DR)

Conjecture was running high. Who would be Novak Djokovic’s new watchmaking sponsor, the world’s number one tennis player, while his contract with the Japanese brand Seiko ended in December 2019?

Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot (Gabriel de la chapelle)

Many big brands were foreseen, but Hublot won the 34-year-old sportsman’s choice. The Serbian champion, whose wealth is estimated at 220 million dollars including 144 million in revenue related to his sports exploits, totals a significant number of partners. Lacoste, Head, Asics and Peugeot, among others, have been loyal sponsors for many years, some of them ready to spend 9 million dollars on a yearly basis. While no confirmation was shared on Hublot’s side, the amounts are said to reach two to three million Swiss francs annually, according to our estimates. While the great champion is now part of the big family of sports legends related to Hublot, it is also a way for the Swiss brand to confirm its wish to have its sports values grow far away from the racing tracks.

Many great sports stars are contracted by Hublot, including Pelé, Kylian Mbappé, Usain Bolt, Dustin Johnson. Today, you signed the world’s number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, why this choice?

We seek legends and strong personalities that leave a mark in their field. Of course, football remains our main pillar, led by two exceptional personalities such as Pelé and Mbappé. They are legends in the football universe. Dustin Johnson, a great golf champion, won the Augusta Masters last year. In tennis, Novak Djokovic is simply the world’s number one player. They all are charismatic personalities and opinion leaders.

Kylian Mbappé, Hublot ambassadeur since 2018 (Jean-Baptiste Mondino)

How long have you been discussing this?

We had already had contact with his agent a few years ago, well before his contract with the brand Seiko in 2014. There had been some conversations, some preliminary round tables had been organized, but things did not come through, as it certainly was not the right time. Recently, we were contacted again by his agent. Other brands were of course in the pipe, and I believe were ready to offer higher amounts than us. But it turned out Novak Djokovic is a true fan of Hublot. Today, he is 34, he has matured and is an example for the younger generations. Of course, he is a much more divisive character than Roger Federer, we know that, but that’s also what’s interesting. He also conveys true values, including with his foundation.

Today, what is the strategy in terms of partnerships for the brand Hublot? Was it important to emphasize this milestone, after the stop of automotive sponsorships, especially with the Ferrari brand, a partnership which lasted about 9 years?

We had indeed led many different activations along the years with our automotive partnerships but today we wish to bet on what represents true evolutions for the generation of tomorrow, this being in many fields. Automotive with thermal engine no longer represents the future. It’s a choice. We are looking to invest in worlds that can offer dreams, and that are related to natural elements, water, earth, air, worlds in connection with sustainability. We already do so with fauna preservation, but this will go even further. We are of course not the only ones to want to invest in this field, but Hublot wishes to engage in partnerships that matter, that embody true statements.

Novak Djokovic mainly signs contracts that last at least five years, and which often surpass 2 to 3 million a year, is it the case with Hublot?

Regarding the contract length, you are right, it is five years. As to the amount, I will not comment. However, I can say that we are also going to bring a lot to Djokovic in terms of image. Many activations are scheduled to happen soon, in Europe, the US, in China. But beyond this, we are also going to collaborate on the creation of timepieces, including a watch which he could potentially wear during his matches.

JANUARY 27, 2019: 2019 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia during trophy presentation after men's final match at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park (Shutterstock)

His sponsors are often supporters of his foundations in favor of children’s education, will this also be the case for Hublot?

Yes, absolutely. Perhaps will a sales percentage of the watches created in collaboration with him be donated to his foundation. We will be discussing this soon.

Have you already met?

The partnership was quickly established and between Wimbledon and the Olympics, we have not yet been able to meet in person, but it is scheduled for him to come to Switzerland before the end of the year. We look forward to welcoming him.

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