Authenticity was made relevant to this urban sophisticated audience by using the proposition ‘Freelander brings out the free spirit in you’. Tone of voice was key, shifting from representing the reality of the African adventure to seeing it more as a dream. The ads used sophisticated humour, playing with the concepts of Land Rover’s heritage of exploring far-flung places and flattering the intellect of this audience.
The print ads humorously juxtaposed wild animals (hippos, huskies, rhinos) in a variety of locations to reinforce authenticity, but without recourse to hard sell, asking consumers to self-complete and share in the joke. The television spots contrasted a chic urban setting and the ‘out there’ environment of an authentic South American tribal village, managing to combine contemporary appeal with functional authenticity.
OTHER COMMUNICATIONS PROGRAMMES
Direct mail and point of sale materials took their creative lead from the advertising. ‘Hippos’, in particular, were adopted as an icon and used extensively all over Europe and other regions.
TOTAL MARKETING EXPENDITURE
€ 10 million to €20 million
Levels of expenditure were in line with previous years but significantly lower than that of competitors launching new models. A key part of the strategy was to cover a long period of time to counteract the effects of competitive launches where high initial spends are followed by low continuing spends. TV was only affordable in the UK, Italy and Spain but not across the time period that sales needed to be sustained. A ‘broadcast’ medium was still needed, so posters were used to cover a longer time period.
The Freelander case demonstrates that advertising was key to increasing sales during a period of intense competition by appealing to a younger, contemporary, style-conscious audience without compromising the brand’s authenticity. The consumer insight, in fact, was to use authenticity to create a sense of enduring, rather than transient, fashionability for the brand. By using a mixture of wit, warmth and irreverence to lighten traditional precepts of adventure, Freelander was made more accessible and more contemporary but no less substantial.
The launch of new competitors plus the fact that the Freelander model was over three years old, led Land Rover to forecast a sales drop in the three leading European markets, UK, Italy and Spain. Land Rover, however, wanted sales maintained and being a premium brand, pricing could not be employed.
This left poster, print and TV advertising to drive awareness. Brand image objectives were set to maintain the brands differentiation (measured as ‘best off road’ on tracking studies) whilst widening appeal (which would be measured by ‘enjoyability’ amongst all audiences on this tracking study).
Amongst Land Rover vehicles, the Freelander target is younger and more urban, often choosing it for the style and attitude it represents. Yet, new competitive models were, by definition, more modern and likely to be considered more ‘stylish’. Freelander’s advertising needed to appeal to another motivation valued by this audience, namely authenticity. This sophisticated audience of educated 25 to 34 urban couples don’t want advertising to tell them what they already know, but want to be entertained and flattered. It is a meeting of Milan Café society and Land Rover mud!