Luxury brands thrive on advertising and messaging. Many actually dedicate upwards of 40% (or more) of revenue back into advertising spending. This is because luxury brands have found that the more their brand is “seen” the better they fare with image-conscious consumers. Large luxury brands have the budget to do this, but smaller ones are often left to more experimental and innovative ways of spreading words about their products. Last year the teams behind two small high-end watch brands is Geneva collaborated on a new project called C3H5N3O9. What is “C3H5N3O9?” It is actually the molecular name for nitroglycerine, and is a playground for the people of brands MB&F and Urwerk to experiment with unique designs outside the traditional realms of a very established brand.
In fact, C3H5N3O9 denies that it is a brand at all. C3H5N3O9 is not only an experiment in design, but also an experiment in marketing, and presentation. Their first product – the limited edition ZR012 watch with a movement based on the principles of the Wankel rotary engine has just finished its production of only 24 pieces (with a price of about $180,000 each). There may or may not be additional watches from the C3H5N3O9, but I wanted to know how it went so I spoke with Max Busser of MB&F and Felix Baumgartner of Urwerk to understand a bit more of the explosive force of C3H5N3O9.
Ariel Adams (AA): C3H5N3O9 (the molecular name for nitroglycerine) is an admittedly cool name, but not something marketers would traditionally endorse due to its difficulty in remembering or saying out loud. Why did you choose it as a brand name?
Max Busser (MB): Because it is so difficult to remember. I am not sure Felix actually remembers it still now ! We took the traditional marketing book and turned it upside down – doing virtually everything it said was negative.
Felix Baumgartner (FB): Two substances that are safe by themselves when added together make something unpredictable and explosive: Nitroglycerine! KaBoom! We thought that Nitroglycerine was an excellent metaphor and a great name, but the word is far to common to be easily identified with something else. ‘C3H5N3O9′ on the other hand is (understandably) much less known and as commercial issues were not a consideration for us it seemed like a good choice. It wasn’t planned, but just the fact that ‘C3H5N3O9′ is so hard to remember and impossible to pronounce has generated lots discussion.