Armed only with a camera, a lighting kit and his youthful charm, Adrian Barker made his way into the white-gloved world of Swiss luxury watchmaking. While most watch enthusiasts may come across as fussy and stuffy, Barker’s fast-paced storytelling can be both disarming and dissecting.
His YouTube page, with videos viewed more than a million times, earns him a “healthy salary” in the six figures. In addition to sponsorship contracts, he also sells watch straps, storage cases and coffee mugs bearing his logo.
And watchmakers, accustomed to having almost total control over their marketing, are taking note of this, accepting the rise of online video influencers.
Zenith, part of the LVMH empire, said working with YouTubers is cheaper and better targeted than traditional advertising. As watch brands seek out a younger, more ambitious consumer, they are turning to influencers to spread the word.
Besides Barker, there’s also Teddy Baldassarre, a 28-year-old man from Ohio, USA, who releases about six videos a week to his more than 500,000 YouTube subscribers.
While there have been historical publications dedicated to watches, as well as online outlets and respected industry columnists, new age influencers have put video first. And it paid off handsomely. YouTube videos “have changed the landscape in terms of where people get their information,” said Mercedes Abramo, CEO for North America at Cartier.