The Big O
Omega gears up for Olympic glory.
This month, don't be surprised to hear Mick Jagger's voice while watching "live" telecasts of the London Olympic Games. No, the veteran rock star and the Rolling Stones are not participating in the Games. But Start Me Up, a song from the 1981 album, Tattoo You, will be used in Omega's latest ad campaign for the Olympic Games.
"Just as the Beatles represent the Liverpool scene, the Rolling Stones represent the London scene of the '60s, '70s and beyond," Omega's president Stephen Urquhart was quoted saying in USA Today. "We're really tapping into London and its musical heritage." The commercial features Olympic hopefuls like Americans swimmer Natalie Coughlin and sprinter Tyson Gay, and South African swimmer Chad Le Clos.
While it was not disclosed how much it spent on the rights to the song, Urquhart admitted this was Omega's most expensive commercial to date. And he also told an American reporter - who guessed that it cost US$500,000 - that his estimate was "not too far off".
That Omega is willing to pump in that amount of money for this large-scale, once-in-four-years event is understandable. It is, after all, an international event with millions of eyeballs glued to its branding. But the significance of this particular Games goes beyond marketing and brand awareness for Omega. It has sentimental meaning, too.
Omega's involvement with the Olympics goes back a long wayA behind-the-scenes look at the making of the TV commercial.
The London Games marks the twenty-fifth time Omega has assumed the role of official timekeeper. And the watchmaker and London were already comrades-in-arms back in 1948 when the English capital first hosted the Games. Known as the year modern sports-timekeeping was born, it saw the introduction of photoelectric cells, athletics starting blocks and the slit photofinish camera. The release of Omega's iconic Seamaster watch took place that year too. [See Games Time]
This year, Omega will be introducing new timekeeping technologies once more. An updated athletics starting block will measure runners' reaction times by the force against the block, instead of movement. The Swimming Show, an innovative light system at the pool, will indicate the top three finishers in any race via three lights on the starting block. (A large dot indicates the champion; two medium-sized dots for the second place and three small ones confirm the second runner-up.) Then, there is the Quantum Timer technology, used in cycling and swimming. The previous versions were precise down to 0.5 parts per million - the new ones are five times more accurate.
All this technological wizardry only underlines Omega's capability as a bona fide timekeeper/watchmaker with a rich heritage. Coupled with its strong financial muscle, astute marketing and its Games connection, it seems that the fires in the Olympic Cauldron - and in Omega's belly - will go on burning for a long time. Let the Games begin!
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the TV commercial
Omega has invested heavily in advanced timekeeping technologies and the London Games will see the debut of new and more precise timing equipment.
Omega celebrates the 2012 Olympics the way it does best.
Omega partnered London during the last time the city hosted the Games in 1948, and the first Seamaster was also launched that year. Which is why Omega is releasing a series of commemorative timepieces to mark the 2012 milestone. First, it has launched the Seamaster 1948 "London 2012" Limited Edition, based on the original Seamaster. It also has two versions of the Seamaster Aqua Terra 44mm London Chronograph: One in a bi-coloured case (red gold and stainless steel with a blue leather strap), and the other stainless steel on a matching steel bracelet.
Omega's presence at London 2012 by numbers.
tonnes of equipment
kilometres of cables and optical fibre
"We're really tapping into LONDON and its musical HERITAGE".
- STEPHEN URQUHART