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Mission to Moonshine Gold: Swatch Does It Because It Works

I listen to a good number of podcasts regarding the watch industry, one of which is A Blog to Watch Weekly.
Mission to Mars: One of two MoonSwatches in my collection.
In a recent episode, when host Rick introduced the topic of the most recent Swatch X Omega Mission to Moonshine Gold MoonSwatch, co-host Ariel Adams audibly sighed in apparent exasperation. I was simultaneously amused by and sympathetic with Adams' frustration at the 30-ish day cycle of new releases when it comes to the Moonshine MoonSwatches. Just to be clear: I have nothing against the MoonSwatch. I own two: Mission to the Sun and Mission to Mars. They are comfortable and fun to wear.

However, the "Mission to MoonShine Gold" (M2MG hereafter) product series is a bit of a stretch when it comes to the MoonSwatch. The underlying exercise takes place during each full moon, which is when Swatch releases a store-only special edition of the Mission to the Moon MoonSwatch with one small change: the chronograph seconds hand is coated in Moonshine Gold and embellished with a design of some sort. Swatch also provides a certificate which supposedly establishes that these watches were "born" during a corresponding full moon.

To me, the trouble here is that there is a whole lot of artifice in this exercise. Sure, the Speedmaster has an important historical connection with NASA's expeditions to the Moon during the Apollo missions. But the full moon really doesn't have any connection to the Apollo missions or the Speedmaster. I do associate the full moon with a precious metal, but it's silver not gold. According to many movies and fictional books, that's what you use to kill werewolves when they emerge during a full moon.

In light of all this, the M2MG releases give a certain inauthentic marketing vibe.
Mission to the Sun: the second of two MoonSwatches in my collection.
I can just imagine the meetings when the marketing team whiteboarded ideas on how to keep the MoonSwatch hype train moving down the tracks. I don't know which ideas were proposed. Maybe a wave emblem in order to evoke the tides generated by the moon? Then there's that antiquated notion that the moon is made of cheese, a dairy product which is certainly part of Swiss culinary tradition. I doubt it, but maybe someone on the marketing team suggested printing the name of different cheeses on the dial.

You get the point. So we have to wonder: why does Swatch keep releasing these Mission to Moonshine Gold MoonSwatches? The answer is: I think it is actually effective. In fact, there is real evidence that he M2MG releases are effective. In order to suss out the public reaction to the M2MG releases, I turned to Google Trends, which offers data on public searches for different terms.
Google Trends time series for the topic "MoonSwatch". Full moons marked by the full moon emoji, which admitedly looks like a cookie.
I downloaded the worldwide daily Google Trends data for the topic "MoonSwatch" from February 15 of this year through August 5. I'll first present a graph of the raw data. I've marked the full moon dates with a full moon emoji. Even by eye, you can tell that the public reacts to each new M2MG release by more frequently searching for MoonSwatch at each drop date. The reaction persists for a few days after the release. Clearly, the first reaction was the strongest, roughly triple the size of subsequent reactions.

We can use statistics to more formally quantify the M2MG effect. For stats lovers out there, I use an OLS regression with the Google Trends data as a dependent variable and two dummy variables as independent variables. The first dummy variable takes on the value 1 for the date of a full moon and two days after, zero otherwise. The second dummy takes on a value 1 for the day of the first full moon when there was a M2MG release and zero otherwise in order to capture the more sizeble initial reaction to the M2MG series.

I was surprised by how much of the ongoing interest in MoonSwatch could be explained by M2MG releases. The data suggest 68% of the variation in Google searches for MoonSwatch can be explained by M2MG releases. The first M2MG release created a massive surge in MoonSwatch interest. Searches for the timepiece tripled from the baseline level of searching we typically see on Google. The other releases had a smaller impact, but it was nothing to sneeze at. The ongoing M2MG releases increase searches for MoonSwatch by an estimated 37%. All of these estimates are statistically significant.

It is undeniably true that M2MG is not exactly a product authentically inspired by heritage. Nevertheless, it is a demonstrably effective strategy for spurring ongoing interest in the MoonSwatch. Much like celebrity ambassadorships, it may seem intuitively implausible that M2MG generates much benefit for Swatch. The data tells a different story.
My book on the history of Rolex marketing is now available on Amazon! It debuted as the #1 New Release in its category. You can find it here.

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