Jaguar shares plans for reigniting the brand
Interview with Steve Cobelli – Jaguar
This Interview was first published in the May 2014 edition of Auto Market Intelligence.
Steve Cobelli, Jaguar Cars’ Digital Marketing Manager, shares plans for ‘reigniting’ the brand. AMI’s Glenn Brooks reports.
AMI: What does your research show about the image of Jaguar in the big five EU markets?
SC: It’s very close to our internal DNA for the brand, built around what we call our ‘Alive’ proposition, which is a strategy that we embarked upon three years ago. We asked ourselves the question – ‘how do we reignite the brand in the eyes of consumers, and how do we separate it out from our competitors?’. We’re up against some heavy hitters in the form of the iconic German brands, and in North America, Lexus and Infiniti too. We differentiate ourselves by ‘aliveness’. Look at the leaping symbol of the Jaguar, and our tagline, ‘How Alive Are You?’ Added to that, the cars have a sports feel, lots of technology and there’s a seductive nature to our design.
AMI: Do any of the markets have relative independence with the tagline?
SC: It’s not a prerequisite – sometimes a tagline won’t work in certain markets. But it’s about the attitude coming across in everything we do. We encourage markets to do events like a ride and drive for customers and the press, and, for the F-TYPE, to have a Porsche 911 there for comparison – to underline the ‘aliveness’ of the Jaguar, to let people experience that for themselves.
AMI: It’s easy to be familiar with Jaguar in the UK but would you agree that elsewhere it’s a brand which can be easy to overlook?
SC: If you look at Jaguar over the last decade, during the years of Ford ownership, I think a lot of people would say we lost our way, especially as brands like Audi were growing at an accelerated pace. We didn’t advance our products in terms of design as well as we could have, so five years ago people would look at our products as old and tired.
Whenever I did talks to the marketing community I used to put up a slide with statements of how the brand was seen. In the UK it would say it’s a car for my dad, in the US people weren’t sure whether or not Ford still owned it, in China people questioned what it was as we had no real history there, and in Germany you’d have to be mad to own a British car as the domestic premium brands were so strong.
Germany is still an interesting case: in our research, Jaguar comes across as an ostentatious brand. We’ve had people with their own businesses tell us if they went to visit a client’s office they’d be afraid to park a Jaguar there. Why? Because the car says they’re earning too much money. That’s clearly an attitude that we want to change, and we are changing it – we’re seeing some good growth in most of our European markets.
AMI: Are you happy with the results of recent campaigns?
SC: The Alive tagline is certainly helping people to reimagine Jaguar in their minds but when you’re rebuilding a brand you’re not going to do it in one hit. It needs to be a considered, strategic engagement over a set period of time, hammering home the same proposition each time. And that is that Alive statement that we’ve been trying to make.
The F-TYPE campaign stands out for me as it shows the reappraisal of what Jaguar is. It has perked people’s ears up and opened their eyes to what the new Jaguar is. ‘Your Turn ‘is an example of how we create our campaigns globally and, there are deliverables that can hit any one of the marketing channels that the markets wish to portray that campaign in. ‘Your Turn’ highlighted our first sports car since the E-TYPE 50 years ago and said to people who could afford to get into one – it’s now your turn to drive a new iconic model, the new F-TYPE.
AMI: The forthcoming XE [BMW 3 Series sedan rival] has to be Jaguar’s most important model yet. How do you get the right message across?
SC: It’s certainly going to be our most important product in terms of sales volume and it’s entering the biggest sector of the market place. We’ve not played seriously in that sector for quite some time. The creative way in which we take that campaign to the world is going to be massive for us. It will almost be the biggest test of whether this Alive proposition is working.
If I look at the campaign which we’ve just done, it was probably my favourite of recent times. This is Villains, which started with the Super Bowl earlier this year. That broke in the UK on 1st April and I was in the US when it was aired there. We had a big social media command centre set up for monitoring and engagement with the ad. What I was most proud of was Jaguar becoming the most engaged-with automotive brand in social media [on the day of the Super Bowl], which in the American market is phenomenal for us.
The result of the ad being played in Europe is we’re finding people now seeing Jaguar as quite a cool brand. There is a sense of thinking ‘I can see myself in a Jaguar, it’s an aspirational brand’. Using F-TYPE and these halo campaigns is putting Jaguar on the radar, and when it comes to XE, we will finally have a product that the mass consumer can buy into.
AMI: Have any of your competitors’ campaigns really impressed you recently?
SC: The one the stands out for me is Mercedes. You can tell they have a clear strategy to make their brand more appealing to a younger audience, which is what we’re trying to do too. The A-Class is a big step in the right direction. How they have advertised it and supported it through marketing activity – I did like the YouDrive campaign in the UK, and the link to X-Factor which was at the time the most watched show on a Saturday evening. The consumers were able to drive the campaign via social media, so it was interesting to me to see how new product was pushed towards a new audience. And then they extended that idea via a link with Tinie Tempah for the C-Class.
What I haven’t seen from some competitors is what we’ve been doing in our key markets, which is the use of interactive elements ‘in ad’, such as Shazam. That’s something we feel is critical to get incremental engagement on our media spend. We’ve been successful with that previously with our XF campaign.
AMI: Your recent campaigns have been heavy on alpha males – F-TYPE, and Villains. Do you think Jaguar might be running the risk of ignoring female buyers?
SC: It’s a great question and I’d like to say no we’re not. Certainly our latest TV is very male-dominant. But I don’t think there is anything which alienates women, and in fact we had Lana Del Ray as one of the main points of focus for our launch of the F-TYPE Convertible. She also produced the soundtrack for Your Turn. It just so happens that the insight around our latest campaign is Hollywood villains and these just happen to be British males. It’s not that we’re a villainous brand but certainly we are a British challenger brand and that’s the message we want to put out.
AMI: How well did Desire work and would you do more of those kinds of short films? Damian Lewis seemed the perfect choice as the actor for the lead role.
SC: We are very cautious about who we partner ourselves with. I’d say we picked Damian at the right time; we also picked Benedict Cumberbatch to be the voice of our latest ads – exactly the right time as his career is on the rise in the same way that Damian’s was at the time of Homeland. And we’ve utilised Tom Hiddleston with a similar effect.
Coming back to your question about possibly alienating women, when you look at the comments that accompany any piece of footage involving these guys or just Benedict’s voice, comments from women – they really love what we’re doing. So in terms of PR and coverage these ads, and the Desire film, have been very successful. Whether or not we create another short film, I can’t say.
AMI: To reach those new, younger customers, do you think the lightweight technology that’s becoming a Jaguar specialty matters to them?
SC: It’s certainly a huge contributor to the dynamic difference of how our vehicles feel to drive. The lightness and the responsiveness of the new F-TYPE Coupe is just the latest example of that. Whether or not the customer appreciates all of that depends on how technically they think. In terms of the benefits of fuel efficiency and handling, one version of the XE will have a CO2 average of 99g/km so immediately that will give the car major appeal to buyers in that segment.
The aluminium architecture is a critical component in allowing us to deliver class leading CO2 figures. It’s very important that we get that across in all of our marketing materials for the XE. And this technology also features in many of our existing models; if you look at our website you can peel back the bodywork and look at the frame of the car and there’s an explanation of why it’s so important.
AMI: With the exception of the UK, populations in the major European markets are getting smaller and older. How do you see the Jaguar buyer demographic changing?
SC: Ultimately our buyers will be younger. The average is now stabilising towards the later forties to early fifties but certainly over the next 12 months we’d like to see younger buyers. We’re opening the brand up to more people so it’s going to become more accessible. The importance of corporate sales in driving that change is going to be massive. If you’re a company driver, you’ll be able to choose between a 3 Series and an XE. Well, every man and his dog has a 3 Series and there’s something special happening with Jaguar, so why choose the BMW?
If we look further ahead, our buyers will be more diverse as well. More new models are coming and with them, we will reach new customers.
AMI: If the marketing message continues to be aimed at that demographic, will you then alienate your older customers?
SC: Loyalty and customer retention are hugely important to our future brand ambition. I hope we’re not going to annoy our current customers, and we do want to retain them. But just having the current set of customers does not make for a sustainable business.
We have separate strategies for how we go about keeping our existing customers and also bring in new Jaguar owners. Already, when we’re creating a campaign we do consider whether or not we’re going to alienate our current customers. What we’ve got to be, is single-minded around our future focus: we need to continue being a high-growth brand.