Rolex's Time Tested Testimonee Concept Lives On Today

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The First Rolex Testimonee, Englishwoman Mercedes Gleitze, in Daily Mail, 1927 (photo: Rolex)
In English, the word "testimony" refers to a statement of fact made by a witness in a legal case that can be used as evidence. Since the earlier half of the twentieth century, Rolex has used the term "Testimonee" to refer to the celebrities who agree to lend their names to endorse the brand and its product offerings to the public. The clipping from the Daily Mail above shows the first Rolex Testimonee, English swimmer Mercedes Gleitze.

As demonstrated by their choice of an athlete who attempted to be the first female to swim across the English Channel, Rolex ties their brand to "exceptional personalities whose accomplishments bear witness to the excellence of Rolex watches." More recently, their roster of Testimonees includes opera greats like Plácido Domingo and Rolando Villazón, athletes like Roger Federer and Lindsey Vonn and other notable personalities.

The watchmaker uses their celebrity Testimonees for ads and features on their official website and social media accounts. They focus on the watches themselves in most of their print ads in magazines like The New Yorker and high end Condé Nast publications, though. However, they recently added a section to their website titled "Every Rolex Tells a Story" featuring mainly athletes sharing their experiences with the Rolex watches in their collections. They also feature their Arts Testimonees on a page dedicated to their involvement in the arts. Many rappers and R & B artists wear Rolex watches in their music videos and live performances, but none of them have been featured as Testimonees to date.

While most of their advertising and marketing today caters to the sensibilities of conservative baby boomers with a taste for luxury, the idea of using celebrities to promote their products was an innovation at the time. It lives on today with most luxury retailers using similar celebrity endorsements to tie their brand identities to the achievements of exceptional individuals.

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