Geek Trivia

Advertisers Set Analog Watches To What Time To Attract Customers?

Which Of These Children's Toys Has Been Co-opted For Use By The U.S. Military?

Answer: 10:10

When it comes to sales in a diverse market, advertisers leave no stone unturned in pursuit of an edge. On top of pleasing lighting and presentation in advertisements, they also enlist time itself to help sell the watch.

If you have a keen eye for details, you may have noticed that the watch and clock faces in advertisements are always set to 10:10–. While there are quite a few of urban legends floating around about this particular choice of times–such as that it is intended to commemorate the time of death of former US president John F. Kennedy–the truth is it has nothing to do with historical figures and everything to do with the human brain’s penchant for abstraction and symbolism.

When the hands of an analog watch face are set to different times, the hour and minute hand create simple shapes. Of all the potential times a watch face can display, advertisers have found the people respond most positively to images of watch/clock faces set at 10:10. The response has nothing to do with the actual time but with the arrangement of the hands themselves–10:10 is as close to a smile shape as a watch face is capable of displaying. However subtle it might be, shoppers prefer a watch that smiles at them.

Advertising tricks aren’t limited to just analog displays, for digital clocks there’s an advertising rule of thumb too. You can’t arrange a digital display to subtly evoke a smiling face, but you can arrange the numbers so that they evoke positive feelings. People respond positively to numbers of increasing size and negatively to numbers of decreasing size. As a result, you’ll frequently see advertisements for digital alarm clocks and such with a display readout of 12:38. Why the 8? Again, consumer research indicates there is a certain appeal to a glowing display that ends with a nice full figure 8.