When Breitling invited me on a trip to Bali to participate in a beach clean-up, the irony wasn’t lost on me. After all, I’d be flying business class and staying at the Grand Hyatt, all to spend what would probably amount to less than an hour picking trash off the beach. I accepted the invitation anyway. How else would I have found out what the brand hoped to do for the environment, and how it was going to accomplish these goals?
By now, you might be familiar with Breitling’s squad concept, which groups ambassadors and friends of the brand into teams of three according to their fields. The Cinema Squad, for example, consists of Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, and Adam Driver, who don’t just represent the brand individually, but also tend to make appearances together. Ostensibly, this synergy generates greater publicity than each ambassador can on his/her own, while these thematic associations also allow the brand to create outsized impacts in the respective universes it chooses to engage with.
It was the Surfers Squad that Breitling called on to maximise its impact in ocean conservancy, which the beach clean-up fell under. This group consists of three world champions: Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons. Slater in particular has a legendary status as the most successful surfer of all time. He’s also a co-founder of Outerknown, a certified manufacturer of sustainable apparel. The timing was fortuitous – the Bali leg of the World Surf League championship had conveniently gathered the Surfers Squad exactly where they were needed.
The link between surfing and ocean conservancy may seem tenuous, but the two are closely related. As Gilmore shared, surfers are by virtue of their sport typically the first to notice any deterioration in a water body’s condition, especially if it’s pollution-induced. Just picking up whatever trash drifts by while one is surfing wouldn’t suffice though. Clearly, more needs to be done to create a lasting impact.
Ocean Conservancy: the multiplier
The final piece of the puzzle is Ocean Conservancy. This US-based non-profit organisation is focused on improving oceanic health across the globe through a variety of programmes, from advising governments on policymaking to working with grassroots movements to educate and spur greater individual responsibility. For the beach clean-up in Bali, Ocean Conservancy rallied hundreds of volunteers who, by the end of the day, had removed several hundred kilograms of trash from the beach. The impact doesn’t just end there though. The idea is for ripple effects to continue on as volunteers share their experiences and lessons with their communities to spread the message.
Naturally, Breitling also did its part. To mark its partnership with Ocean Conservancy, the brand unveiled the Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition chronograph. The watch comes with a pair of NATO straps made from Econyl, a material that’s repurposed from nylon waste, and is presented in 100 per cent recyclable packaging. It has a limited run of 1,000 pieces, and part of the sales proceeds will be donated to Ocean Conservancy to fund its activities.