Fatti Laleh Charged With Making Piaget Desirable To A New Generation

Fatti Laleh, a veteran advertising and marketing executive, began as Piaget global director of Communications and Image in January and has since been working to communicate a new image for Piaget. As with most luxury companies, this begins with focusing on the heritage of the luxury watch and jewelry brand and using this to appeal to a new group of consumers throughout the world.

Piaget is historically a watchmaker that more recently began crafting jewelry. This presents unique challenges in trying to appease both audiences. Another challenge is for Laleh to return attention and desirability for a brand that has been suspiciously quiet in recent years.

The Iranian-born fashion and luxury professional who has lived and worked in New York, Belgium and most recently, Paris, is now based in Piaget’s headquarters in Geneva. She is one of several new hires in the U.S. and abroad since Benjamin Comar was named Piaget CEO in 2021. So not only is Laleh new to Piaget but so are many of her colleagues. This newness brings both challenges and opportunities.

In this interview Laleh discusses how she is approaching her new job, what she has done so far and some of her plans for the future as Piaget attempts to transform its image.

Anthony DeMarco: You have a great deal of background working for large luxury brands and important advertising agencies. You now come to Piaget and you’re being asked to make over the entire advertising and marketing program. How do you begin such a large, complicated project like this?

Fatti Laleh: That’s a great question. It is quite overwhelming because it’s a brand that has so much to say. It’s a matter of finding the right message at the right time to reintroduce Piaget to the world. I can use my expertise coming from an agency side where you had to deep dive quickly into a brand. First you look at the history by going into the archives. Then you map out your plan. I used three different layers to organize the way I approached this plan. First, we need to give a voice back to Piaget. In this exercise we are reminded of the obvious association between the brand and the product.

I decided that we are going to approach this on three levels. The first level is impact. How am I going to very quickly create an impact so we get immediately back into the conversation? It’s what I would call an iconic brand campaign.

Then I worked on what I call the distinction level. What is the distinction of Piaget. What is the reason to believe in the brand, and the reason why someone would go to us versus someone else.

Then, I’m working on the third plan, which is the notion of the relevance. How am I animating this Piaget society that is so inherent to us? And how am I creating the relevance by people who create that society? You are part of it for example. Your voice. How you comment on my brand is bringing something to my community. Then who do I bring in who I can control in a way. So, I’m approaching it in a very methodical way. Because otherwise, you can very quickly get lost with a brand of this magnitude. You have 150 years of stories to tell. I think it’s about focus.

AD: From what I understand, the future of Piaget lies in its past as a cultural icon in the late 20th century. This isn’t a new strategy for a luxury brand. Will you be implementing this strategy in a more contemporary way?

FL: It’s a classic approach. Bringing back what made Piaget and making it more contemporary. I’ve always said this brand was social before social media. And that is really the point of differentiation beyond the expertise that we bring to our products. For me it is the importance of the vibe from the ’60s and ’70s in this liberty that we had. The liberty to create. The liberty to self-express. The liberty of community, to come together. This was a time of cultural change. This is really what I’m harking back to. It was also a period that was sexy. Gold pieces, skin and creativity. It is great to reinterpret this. I’ve noticed there’s a bit of a tension between our generation that attached value to savoir faire with the products; versus the young who are more about community, such as where do I belong and what do I aspire to. This is what I like.

AD: How are you’re bringing the 1970s into the modern era?

FL: The first expression is the choices I’ve made in the ad campaign. The choice of the photographer, which is very much someone that gets the ’70s vibes of Michael Jackson. It’s the choice of how I brought a modern take of the ’70s styling into this new community. It’s how I chose the elements. Let’s be honest, gold was super ’70s, so there’s a gold background in the campaigns. And then I am infusing the ’70s vibe into the cultural aspects. Architecturally I’m using rounded shapes, weavings, things like that.

AD: Are you going to be using influencers?

FL: I have a very strong opinion about influencers versus who I call the advocators. Because everybody to me is a messenger of the brand. I don’t believe in influencers for the sake of influence. I believe in authentic relationships of people who have an influence at the micro level. Meaning that I’m after the watch specialists. I’m after the jewelry specialists. Those are the type of influencers I’m looking for.

There is right now a trend that I’m watching, which I call ‘make Piaget great again.’ This new vibe of young collectors that are geeks of our watches. That for me is influence because it’s a new community being created. That is what I’m after.

In the middle range I have what I call advocators, which is a bit of marketing lingo, but it’s the people that will drive this conversation and will benefit from the brand and in turn we will benefit. I really believe these relationships are a mutual win and that is how I approach it.

Then we move up to ambassadors. Because our brand was always about stars back in the day, like Jackie Kennedy. It’s only natural that I will get an ambassador to drive the conversation. We have to find people with a global résonance (special global appeal). Either you go to with a major sports player or go to the movie or music industry. We are part of that pop culture after all. It will come.

AD: Will the Polo watch be the centerpiece of this new strategy?

FL: Polo is a big one. We have polo as a priority. We also have Possession (jewelry). Polo I would say is part of our DNA. It’s this casual chic luxury. It uses the ultra-thin case. It’s also about the creation of a family. The skeleton is one, then there’s the date model. And then we’re going to evolve it into two to three other expressions with one novelty coming out for Watches & Wonder. It’s really something super important because of its shape, its color, its design. It’s essential for us to make it an icon of the brand.

Just as important is Possession. The challenge we have in our brand is that we are watchmakers and we became jewelers. So now we have to bridge that a little bit. Possession is important because it’s the first line that we just launched, putting forward the decorative panels that we had in the watch, using also a very mechanical approach to bridge watches and jewelry. That’s the second level that is super important in our organization of the brand.

AD: Will you be promoting other products?

FL: The third level, to give us credibility as a watch and jewelry maker is high jewelry and high watchmaking. It’s important in the creativity, authority and legitimacy of our brand. I’m really going to push the daily accessible (category) with Possession and Polo and then high jewelry.

Our new creation is the Possession ring that launched in September with Palis décor on the side. That line will be coming with with a novelty in April.

We have a big news coming with Polo, which will be revealed at Watches & Wonder and launched in September. That’s a big one. And then of course there’ll be more because we’re gearing up to celebrate our 150th anniversary.

AD: Are you going along with the gender-fluid trends for watches and jewels?

FL: That’s whole story of the brand. I’m still 50-50 and that’s the aim and we’re pretty much there. We have to rescale a little bit and that’s what the campaign did. I put men with women. I tried to combine the watch with a ring so that we create a total world. There is no gender focus. It’s really being equal.

AD: In terms of world regions, I believe you mentioned to me previously that you focused on Asia first. How will you build the brand in regional markets?

FL: I think what I want to do is I want to re-westernize the brand. I think it has become very avantgarde. We were one of the first to go to China and also the Middle East. But I think in order to gain back the Piaget aura, we have to also refocus. The U.S. is a great opportunity. There is an immediate reaction when you have cachet in the states. Whatever we will do in the states will produce halos everywhere. Then we have to return our focus to Europe as well, because Europe is the credibility of jewelry and watchmaking. I’m trying to shift more west.

AD: Yes, you’re trying to shift more West but I believe your advertising campaigns began in Asia. Is that correct?

FL: Yes. We launched in Korea, then went to China. The Middle East launched this month. France is going big now. So yes, we kind of moved a bit from the east to the west.

AD: The U.S. will be coming in at some point?

FL: Yes, we’ve done a little, but we’re a bit shy. We have new management. We met people in the U.S. It’s about making sure the structure is ready when we go big. We have to be reasonable in how we do it otherwise you get lost. There are so many voices you have to make sure to do this right. We did run with Hearst digital and in print. It’s a start. We have to be tactical with the U.S. We believe the entry point is jewelry.

AD: What media will you be using to launch your new campaigns?

FL: We’re going back to the basics. We’re going old school. I believe in the nobility of print and OOH (out-of-home) advertising. We scaled back the digital. I gave room to key prints and a lot of OOH because I had to do a huge impact and I believe this generation of consumers reacts to that.

AD: Will Piaget still be focusing on ultra-thin watches again?

FL: We’re basically going to take ultra-thin and infuse it into Polo, because we already have the skeleton with the ultra-thin case. The novelty as well is going to have the ultra-thin case. The beauty is we have ultra-thin in our DNA. We started with the men’s ultra-thin watches in the ’60s ’70s. It’s about reclaiming that as one of our founding values that made us who we are today. We can’t just ignore it.

AD: But the record breaking ultra-thin watches, is that over?

FL: Yes, I think so. I think we believe in thinness. We were always after thinness but not for its technical aspiration. It was really at the service of beauty. Making the most exceptional pieces. That’s how they function and that’s still how our developers and atelier work.

AD: You began working for Piaget at the end of January. What did the Benjamin Comar, Piaget CEO, tell you? What was the objective, the singular aspect he wanted you to focus on?

FL: He said you have an impressive portfolio. You know what it takes to rebuild brands. Make my brand desirable again. It’s as simple as that.

AD: Do you believe your agency background is going to be really helpful in doing this?

FL: It gave me legitimacy. I have been lucky to be confronted with challenges that has made me the expert that I have become. I was lucky to create a program from scratch when Gucci went into cosmetics. I worked on the revamp of the Pasha de Cartier watch. I repositioned Zara. I come from the world of magazine editorial. And that gave me the spectrum to be able to make choices and to have a point of view. I think that makes a difference.

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