Collaborations and co-brandings usually miss more than they hit. They’re inherently more challenging. Retro or socio-political themes are rarely safe bets either. Imagine if an egomaniacal committee chose to tackle all these hurdles at once? You’d end up with the Timex x Coca-Cola 1971 Unity Collection . . .
Timex x Coca-Cola isn’t the worst starting point. Both are iconic American brands with a history of worldwide sales domination. Name recognition counts, and they both have it. The Timex Co_Labs page is filled with less equal pairings. They are typically obscure one-store fashion brands of the “Literally who?” variety.
This type of May-September relationship makes sense. Established corporations and fledgling trendy designers complement each other. The former has a familiar name, excess manufacturing capacity, and exposure. The latter lacks all these, but has fresh ideas, a cool factor and a small but fervent customer base.
You’ve got the brawn, I’ve got the brains. Let’s make lots of money. Both parties bring something different to the table. Problem: Coca-Cola may dwarf Timex, but both are big old companies that have seen better days. Are they grasping at the same straws?
Innovate or die! Timex’s last surefire hit was Indiglo almost three decades ago. The last few years have been little more than cartoon characters on dials of plain Jane watches or safe reissues. Coca-Cola similarly throws new things at the wall but hasn’t had much luck with anything sticking.
So what the hell 1971 is about? Why commemorate that crappy year? As if this wasn’t crass enough already, it’s all about a commercial. Apparently that stupid “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” commercial is a half century old. Like Timex and Coca-Cola, the so-called “Hilltop” ad was a really big thing at the time.
It’s before my time, and I don’t get it. I may have conflated it with Woodstock, as the imagery doesn’t really ring a bell. Spoiler alert: the then most expensive ad to date is also the closing scene of Mad Men. It’s a pretty transparent hippie pipe dream of world peace, a world without lawyers.
They assembled a global sampling of young soft drink consumers in native garb and spaced them out in formation as they held their bottles like rifles and lip-synched a schmaltzy jingle. It pans out, and they have to spell out that this is about UNITY (not to be confused with U.N.I.T.Y, which is more recent and more tightly-focused). The obvious subtext is to buy Coke.
I guess it worked. Furthermore, I bet Timex is hoping this works and they can move some more watches. Wait, I mean the sales pitch worked, not that unity thing. Peace, love, and understanding are never more funny than when being used as a commercial gimmick.
Timex x Coca-Cola 1971 Unity limited edition is not the best timed release. A few months ago Coca-Cola chose diversity over unity. In case you missed it, they have a race hustler pushing identity politics on people that just want to do their jobs. Many Fortune 500 companies seem determined to invert the saying about how wanting people to “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Let’s just say that this racial scapegoating was not received well by those expected to be left holding the bag. The “be less white” message destroyed any goodwill many had for the sugar water company. However, the bigger problem may be the watches’s designs.
This is subjective. I think they’re ugly, tacky, and cheap looking, and not in a good way. Shockingly, the social media shows that there are people that claim to love them. Perhaps they’re all women, as the color scheme is pretty femme.
There will always be fans for any piece of garbage. If you need proof, head to IMDB.com and look up reviews for the worst movie you’ve ever seen. Not only will there be people loving it, they will claim it’s their absolute favorite movie ever! Yech.
The best of these is the Timex Standard. It’s just a three-hander with that signature Spencerian logo in disunified, inauthentic colors. Presumably this is a nod to varying skin tones, but it looks like an attempt at trademark infringement.
They also give you the bird. As I mentioned last week, pale blue on white is bad contrast. But there is a little dove there. As a symbology expert, I know that this denotes peace. Maybe it means more. More importantly, that eponymous band is not saying 1971 to me at all. It looks almost like carbon fiber with racing red stitches because they didn’t use enough of the proper color on the dial.
Slightly worse is the Timex Q with a more colorful dial reading PEACE. I see a theme here. There’s a wee Coca-Cola logo in a singular proper red color underneath. If you like oddly colored rainbows, there is that too. I quess it’s okay if you’re into that sort of thing.
The splashy tutti-frutti graphics use all the real estate allowed on the little 34mm Timex T80. I guess this is a nod to psychedelia. Like the others, it does look like a promotional item attained by sending in bottle caps.
Digital watches in 1971: does not compute! The first production Hamilton Pulsar model was released on April 4, 1972 and cost more than any Rolex. Gotta sell watches to the kids that can’t tell analog time. They like this hippie revival stuff, right? Right? Anyway, the cheapest of the triumvirate got the most effort. The chime plays a low-res sample of that “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” song. That’s the most compelling thing here in my book.
These are all a limited edition, but I suspect the demand is more limited than the supply. There are surely Coke and Timex completists that just gotta have everything with the respective name on it. Timex x Coca-Cola 1971 Unity LE proves the peril of putting too much on a plate or having decisions made by committee.