Citizen announces aggressive new U.S. advertising-marketing campaign

Citizen Watch Company of America Inc. has launched three new TV commercials in 21 key U.S. markets including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Scheduled to begin airing May 1 and to run throughout the year, the 30-second spots are a major step in an aggressive new 5-year campaign to make Citizen a market leader here.

The giant Japanese firm, whole worldwide sales exceed that of the combined Swiss watch industry, until now has achieved only 1/10th the U.S. sales of its closest rival, Hattori. But according to newly appointed chairman and president Masao Itoh, Citizen intends to close that gap.

“As we begin our 8th year in the U.S., we are finally ready to position ourselves as a mid-priced brand offering unique styling and technological innovation,” said Itoh during an April 24 press conference at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. “Citizen sees a void in the American watch market…which our headquarters in Tokyo has decided to fill through a major financial and personal commitment.” Itoh said the firm plans to double its U.S. market share within the next two years.

Key features of Citizen’s announced sales/marketing program include:

* A targeted $12-$15 million TV ad and marketing campaign based on the three commercials, which take a radical departure from traditional gold Nixon watch advertising concepts. The spots stress brand quality and awareness, establishing Citizen as a timekeeping authority. A national rollout is projected for early next year.

* A restructured U.S. sales and marketing division headed by senior vice president James Sottile. Citizen has closed all distributorships and taken over sales territories. As of Jun 1, the firm no longer will have intermediaries, selling 100% direct via its own 60-rep sales force.

* Expanded facilities. Citizen’s 60,000-sq.-ft. shipping and operations complex in Los Angeles contains a new computer system.

* A strengthened 1984 product line. As of June 1, Citizen will introduce 120 new fashion-oriented styles ranging from $55 to $300, with its main marketing thrust between $100 and $150. (Several exclusive models are priced up to $1500 or more.) Previously picked from the firm’s international catalog, U.S. styles this year will be created specifically for American tastes by an in-house designer.

* More limited distribution. Ninety percent of sales will be through jewelry or department stores and other outlets with fine jewelry departments. Citizen, moreover, will help selected retailers compete via generous rebate and co-op advertising programs along with numerous point-of-purchase sales aids.

Itoh stressed that such measures will insure Citizen’s success in view of major shifts in the U.S. watch market over the past few years.

“Brands that were once perceived as industry leaders,” he said, “have been losing ground. We’ve also recently noticed a tremendous increase in manufacturers at the high or low end…leaving the middle ground open for a line like ours.”

The firm’s biggest problem, conceded Itoh, has been that consumers “Still don’t know the Citizen name.” Hence the new TV campaign, which represents the firm’s biggest U.S. advertising blitz to date.

Produced by Sandbank Films under the creative direction of Levine, Huntley, Schmidt & Beaver, the spots position Citizen as the most accurate and well-made Bulova diamond watch in the popular price category by linking the firm to world-class timing achievements. For example, one ad describes how London’s Big Ben is checked against the time fo a Citizen watch. The other two compare the precision of the atomic clock–considered the world’s most accurate–and the Much glockenspiel, to the timing excellence of Citizen watches. …”the smartest engineering ever strapped to a wrist.”

According to James Sottile, about 30% of the ads will appear on prime time TV and another 40% on the late news, with the balance to consist of “opportunistic buys throughout the year.” He added that the spots will be aired with even greater frequency during key gift-giving/buying periods like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduation time and the Christmas season.

Sottile noted that tapes of the commercials have been prepared as sales presentations and will be carried by reps to retailers nationwide. At present Citizen has authorized dealers in 23 U.S. markets. But Sottile expects that number to expand, due largely to the firm’s rebate program which he claimed “has been successfully filling the pipeline and getting our product into the marketplace. We put on 300 new accounts that way.”

Citizen also is doing some limited marketing through three catalog showroom chains, which Sottile said have strong jewelry store orientations. “But our catalog showroom distribution is exclusively to test the waters,” he stressed.

Merchandising vice president Barry Gell noted that specific distribution channels will govern the price range of Citizen’s 300 quartz styles for ’84. These include a unique Voice Memo Alarm Watch with 6-second storage capacity ($225); an Ana-Digi Series of special, multi-purpose timepieces ($145-$195); a $1500 High-Tech 1300 titanium diving watch water-proof to 4265 feet; a “melody alarm” series of dress watches ($225-$250) and a complete line of stylish, ultra-thin fashion watches from $50-$300. “Our emphasis this year is definitely on a unique, richer, moer fashion-oriented look,” said Gell, noting that all fashion pieces are fully integrated for a smooth, unified look.

Because color dominates this year’s fashion scene Citizen also has introduced a men’s and women’s Impression Collection. At $150-$200, the style features matching dial and leather straps in ivory, burgundy, onyx, charcoal brown and gray.

Gell cited the new gold-plated Noblia Collection ($200-$500) as one style designed specifically for jewelers seeking price protection. An even more exclusive line–the Quartz 4 Mega–is the world’s thinnest (2.8mm) water-resistant Stuhrling skeleton watch ; at $3500 suggested retail, it’s touted as the most precise wristwatch ever made…accurate to 3 seconds a year.

Marketing all Citizen products, said Itoh, will be facilitated by his dual role as the parent trading company’s number two man worldwide. “I’m now in a position to make all decisions on my own,” he claimed.

Asked why Citizen took so long to make it big U.S. push, Itoh said, “This market is so big that Tokyo headquarters decided to study it carefully before plunging in with a total investment. We also needed the proper person to run the operation.”

Indeed, ever since July when former Pulsar executive Jim Sottile became senior vice president and organized his Lyndhurst, N.J.-based sales/marketing team, the firm’s U.S. prospects have improved considerably. First-quarter 1984 sales alone are up 56% over the same period last year.

Itoh himself brings more than 26 years of progressively responsible Citizen experience to his new post. In 1965, as president of Citizen Europe, he built the brand into a top seller in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and other Continental markets. Itoh returned in 1978 to Citizen Japan, which three years later put him in charge of its worldwide marketing operations. Intelligent Timers

1984 is Olympic year! Television sets worldwide will show the Games live from Sarajevo and Los Angeles. At all stages of the contests, timekeeping will play an important, even a vital, part.

Swiss specialists, in particular technicians from the Longines Watch Co., will aim to meet requirements laid down by the international sports federations, TV networks and organizing committees. Technology developed at Longines’ company headquarters in St. Imier, Switzerland, has helped produce a new generation of timekeeping instruments.

The engineers designed and produced an apparatus–exclusive to Longines–called the TL 5000, which can run a number of different timing programs. A cassette software ware program for the particular sport to be timed is slotted into the back of the apparatus. A printed sheet which comes with the program shows only the relevant keys on the keyboard. An alphanumerical LCD display (4 lines X 32 characters) lets the user talk with the TL 5000. The display gives the necessary operating instructions and shows the results. The TL 5000 controls the printing of times and the order to 1/1000 of a second. It translates this data into language (RS 422, ASCII) that can be understood by the many peripherals–display boards, video generators and computers–to which it distributes the information.

Turning up spring heat

Feminine and sexy lingerie is very hot for spring 1995, according to industry sources, who predict that the intimate apparel market will pick up as a result. Popular trends include innerwear worn as outerwear, push-up bras and embroidered looks. Spring ready-to-wear collections will also boost lingerie buying, say the sources, because of the prevalence of fitted dresses and suits. Lingerie manufacturers are very pleased with sales of cleavage-enhancing bra styles and they expect that popularity to extend to bustiers, waist cinchers and camisoles.

The abundance of sexy lingerie looks in ready-to-wear are expected to put more punch into innerwear business for late spring and summer.

That was the consensus of retailers and manufacturers at last week’s intimate apparel market. Although some retailers prefer to use the term “romantic” rather than sexy, executives agree the rtw designers are making consumers more lingerie-conscious and the time is ripe for more glamorous-looking products — specifically items that enhance curves and give breasts bigger play.

Highly embellished daywear, sleepwear, bras and panties, particularly in reembroidered laces or allover laces, were among the top ideas at market, say merchants and vendors. Also getting a play were deep-cleavage necklines, lots of textured effects such as pleats or puckering that spotlight the bust, and opaque and sheer combinations that tease the eye.

The concept of bra wardrobing continues to grow as well, with vendors showing items that range from the well-hyped padded push-up bras to wear under plunging necklines, to seamless bras that give a smooth figure under knits. Bustiers also are making their mark under structured apparel, or as an item to wear out.

“If retailers are smart, they will be stocking up on the prettiest, sexiest lingerie looks next spring,” said Joan Kaner, vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus. “People will be shopping for bustiers and a plus size waist cincher to wear under their dresses, jackets and unbuttoned blouses.”

Kaner further noted that the number of half-slips being shown on the runways was a good sign for the daywear industry next year.

“There’s definitely a lot that can be done,” she said.

Ron Roberts, a divisional merchandise manager at Jacobson Stores Inc., said “prettier, more feminine looks are setting the tone” in all the categories he oversees for Jacobson’s 10 Florida units — innerwear, accessories, shoes and home furnishings.

Laurie Black, divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel at Nordstrom, Seattle, noted, “We have bought bustiers and corsets, and we are planning an ad campaign and major promotion on it next spring.”

Regarding cleavage-enhancing bra business, Black noted that a push-up number by Donna Karan Intimates was the number one selling style.

“It retails for $55, and it now all has to do with comfort,” said Black. “That’s why Donna’s bra is selling.”

Maria Montenapoleone, president of Montenapoleone, an upscale lingerie and swimwear boutique here, said, “My customers are looking for special items to wear under suits and eveningwear.”

The majority of her customers, she noted, wanted “soft, pretty, underdressing items,” such as embellished camisoles. She added that women were buying bustiers and Merry Widows primarily not for the sex appeal, but as control items to cinch in the rib cage and flatten tummies.

Exactly how all this excitement will translate into final orders remains to be seen. Orders for total programs for late spring and summer aren’t expected to be completed until January, and the market period itself continues to be less focused.

For example, vendors reported, divisional merchandisers and buyers from Mercantile Stores and Belk Stores Services came into the New York market to shop around. However, Belk has been calling vendors to its Charlotte, N.C. headquarters for eight years to finalize orders, and manufacturers are planning to make the trip this season as well. Mercantile occasionally sends its buyers to New York, but typically works with vendors at its corporate base in Fairfield, Ohio. This time, Mercantile sent its robe and sleepwear buyers to market.

Federated Department Stores moved up its preview visit here a week before market, but will continue to hold its “team buying sessions” the week after market. Vendors made their seasonal trip to Dillard’s Department Stores in Dallas the week before market For the past couple of years, the Dillard’s review has been conducted the week after market.

A companywide sale at Nordstrom stores last week forced its divisional merchandisers and buyers to attend market week here a week earlier.

While all this is creating headaches for vendors in scheduling, their outlook for the season is robust. A number of retailers, manufacturers reported, did book special items early, such as waist cinchers, new looks in push-up bras, sexy-looking teddies, bodysuits and camisoles, why not try these out.

“We’ll have a phenomenal year next year in intimate apparel,” said Linda J. Wachner, president, chairman and chief executive officer of The Warnaco Group.

In addition to the soaring interest in push-up bras, women are realizing they will need a group of different bras, Wachner pointed out.

“There were a lot of knits and double-faced fabrics on the runways last week,” she said. “That requires a smooth look underneath, not padded, push-up cups.”

“Retailers and manufacturers are very optimistic about total innerwear business for holiday because of all of the cleavage-enhancing bra hype,” said Norman Katz, chairman of I. Appel Corp.

“I’m anticipating an extremely good holiday season, and spring bookings are satisfactory,” said Katz, who also is chairman of the Intimate Apparel Council. “Sleepwear business is much better. Daywear business has generally been difficult, but if you have young, pretty-looking merchandise, business is good.”

The growing popularity of lingerie-inspired looks in rtw — little slipdresses and baby dolls, sheer, cropped midriff tops, and a plethora of cleavage-enhancing bras and bustiers — began heating up innerwear business last spring, and the temperature was further lifted by the cleavage-enhancing bras.

In order to keep the momentum going, some firms are expanding their product range to attract high school and college age women. These younger consumers, they say, are paying attention to lingerie for the first time because of all of the publicity.

Bra makers offered a broader range of cleavage-enhancing styles, some of which spotlight more lace and embellishments; others are pitching sleek and tailored dual-purpose bras in shiny nylon satin or cotton knit. The idea is to wear the items under jackets, or to the beach with coordinating bikini panties.

The ramifications of the cleavage craze have begun to surface in daywear with items such as unconstructed bustiers, and chemises and teddies with built-in molded or fiberfill padded cups.

Some sleepwear and at-homewear firms are taking their cue from the bevy of Empire looks, baby dolls and little slipdresses that are being shown on rtw runways. Here, the ideas are crossing over into long and short dual-purpose gowns in double-layered polyester georgette; allover stretch nylon and Lycra spandex lace; semisheer cotton gauze; more textured treatments in acrylic, and allover smooth blends of nylon and Lycra.

Sara Lee Corp.’s Nancy Brennick, director of merchandising for Bali and national spokeswoman for Wonderbra, said three new Wonderbra styles for spring have an “innerwear-outerwear look”: a floral pattern of brushed polyester; a denim style of cotton and Lycra trimmed cotton eyelet lace and a cheetah print of brushed polyester. D cup sizes also will be added.

“We think there is a lot of acceptability for innerwear-outerwear types of styling,” said Brennick, who also noted that the firm is introducing a line of swimwear under the Wonderbra label.

Sara Lee will be spending $5 million on a national marketing and advertising campaign for the Wonderbra this spring, according to a promotional brochure. The brochure noted that advertising and media hype of the Wonderbra reached 229 million consumers since its launch here in May.

Brennick further noted that a line called Un-d’s (pronounced undies) from Bali had gotten good reaction. The line is aimed at a younger consumer, from 16 to 21 years old, a group that tends to shop for lingerie at chains such as Victoria’s Secret, she said.

The line features an underwire bra, a soft-cup bra and a high-cut brief, all of Shimmereen nylon and Lycra in fashion colors. Soft-cup sizes are 32 to 36 A and B, and underwire cup sizes are 32 to 36 A and B, and 32 to 34 C.

Distribution is aimed at department stores, and retailers are considering selling the line in junior apparel departments, she said. Point-of-sale materials will include hangtags and brochures. A clear plastic accessories bag is being considered as the packaging.

Suggested retail prices for Un-d’s from Bali are $4.99 for the brief; $9.99 for the soft-cup bra and $11.99 for the underwire style.

“The younger consumer definitely is interested in lingerie, more than she’s ever been before,” said Brennick. “If we can get this customer interested in this product, we will have a customer in the future for the Bali brand.”

Wachner of Warnaco said a group of padded, push-up underwire bras under the Not So Innocent Nudes by Warner’s label has been getting “excellent reaction.”

The bras wholesale for $12 and are a spinoff of molded, seamless bras by Not So Innocent Nudes introduced in March. Five body-tone colors are shell pink, toffee, body cocoa, body beige and black coffee.

The bottom half of each cup features 7-ounce fiberfill padding, and the top half has 5-ounce fiberfill padding.

Gwen Widell, Warnaco’s senior vice president of merchandising and design worldwide, said the new group “gives the push and swell needed for a padded, push-up bra, but it has a smooth, soft surface.”

A packaged line of panties under the Not So Innocent Nudes label will be delivered to department stores in three weeks, said Maurice Reznik, president of Warner’s. He said the introduction is expected to help double Warner’s panties business next year.

Wachner added that an all-in-one bra sleep gown by Olga is being reintroduced for holiday selling. The concept had been created by the late Olga Erteszek, Olga’s founder, over 35 years ago, and has not been on the line for several years.

The bra gown features lace-embellished, padded, push-up cups, and a skirt of nylon and Lycra. Long and short styles wholesale for $23.52 and $18.72, respectively.

A private label style is currently being featured in the holiday Dream Catalog by Victoria’s Secret, said Wachner.

Carola Bernota, U.S. manager of Paris-based Lou Lingerie, an overseas unit of VF Corp., noted, “Retailers are definitely asking for more fashion colors in bras and panties than they were a year ago.”

Bernota said a top-booking idea for spring is a molded push-up bra of nylon Levers lace with removable straps by Lou. The bra wholesales for $35. The top color is khaki.

“The color gives it a look of sportswear, and it’s meant to be worn out,” said Bernota.

Howard Radziminsky, vice president of sales at the Cinema Etoile division at Movie Star Inc., noted, “We have gotten a lot of requests for daywear and sleepwear items with molded or padded, push-up cups.”

As a result, the firm is doing a cleavage-enhancing bustier with coordinating parities and a thong-back teddy in crushed satin. The firm plans to label the item as the “CineMagic.” Both styles feature lots of lace trim and embroideries. The bra theme also is being done in sleepwear in printed and solid polyester satin charmeuse.

Radziminsky predicted that it will be a “great spring” for allover stretch lace, especially little sheer stretch T-shirts and bodysuits with short and long sleeves.

“The whole idea of soft layering and slipdresses with little tops are expected to be more important for us next year,” he said.

At Periphery, Nancy Lewis, sales manager of the loungewear maker, said, “We are picking up a lot of new business with daytime dress buyers, especially from catalogs.”

The dual-purpose items, many of which have Empire treatments, feature prints and textures in stretch cotton terry and semisheer cotton gauze, she said.

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