Cartier – 100 years of Tank

A 100-year anniversary can be a double-edged sword. On the 100th birthday of the Cartier Tank, our challenge was to celebrate the incredible way the watch has maintained its status as a leading style icon for a whole century, while creating a contemporary tribute that would appeal to a new generation. We wanted to demonstrate how truly relevant this masterpiece is right now.

Plus points were that the Tank is genuinely a thing of beauty, a timeless example of excellent design. And who hasn’t heard of the Cartier Tank? It’s one of the most famous watches in the world, seen on the wrists of Princess Diana, Jackie Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Angelina Jolie… the list goes on.  Not so positively, perhaps, in this age of digital disruption: your great aunt Mabel had one. How would we bring all this together in a way that delivered Cartier’s central message – the Tank is for everyone?

Together with Cartier, we decided to partner with one male and one female influencer to create branded content to sit online, across social media and in print. Our influencers needed to be charismatic and engaging, as well as creative in their own right. We were looking for people with a respected body of work, with cross-generation and cross-lifestyle appeal, who could talk about good design.

After much deliberation, we approached the British actors Jenna Coleman and Douglas Booth: both talented, gorgeous, ferociously photogenic and very now.

Coleman’s impressive body of work – with Doctor Who, several BBC literary adaptions, a Stephen Poliakoff drama and Victoria, among its highlights ­– meant she had broad appeal, the youth vote and also highbrow credentials. Even better, she had been given a much-loved Cartier Tank on her 21st birthday, and treasured the watch and its memories and meanings.

Booth had a similarly eclectic appeal, having modelled in several Mario Testino-shot campaigns, starred in BBC films and novel adaptions, and in Carlo Carlei’s Romeo & Juliet and Lone Scherfig’s The Riot Club, among others. He, too, had a great Cartier story to tell: his mother still possesses the Tank that his grandfather bought as a love token for his grandmother.

At Cartier’s suggestion, we engaged the British filmmaker and photographer George Harvey to bring our stories to life. Harvey’s thoughtful and architecturally spare style was a perfect fit for the Tank. He shot classic, simple portraits in black and white of Booth and Coleman wearing Tank watches, which we used to illustrate double-page spreads in The Sunday Times Magazine and to create beautiful multi-image flipbooks for social media.

Our creative team was completed when hugely respected Sunday Times Style and Times Luxx jewellery writer Alice Edwards came on board to write about the Tank and interview our talent.

Cartier’s own campaign to mark the anniversary – Tank 100 – was spearheaded by five statements, each beginning “The Tank is…” and each defining the watch in a different way.

We asked Booth and Coleman to pick their favourite statement and then expand on why that word was right for the Tank, telling their own personal stories about the watch and talking about what the theme meant to them professionally and personally.