Blog : In the MG world, the Chinese understand Britishness better

Jack Yan

Take a car range that’s not selling too well, and try to pull the patriotic heart-strings to see if you can move a few. Trouble is, this advert for the MG 6 Magnette, which is running on some of our sites, is pretty awful.

It’s not convincing, for starters. Brand Germany has its positioning so well sewn up that it’ll take more than a low-budget campaign to shift consumer perceptions, even in Britain. Whomever did this creative obviously hasn’t realized that even the Metropolitan Police doesn’t always buy British any more—though, by and large, the French police will buy French, and the Polizei will buy German.

It’s worse than Citroën’s effort in trying to convince us that the C5 is Germanic, though at least in its case, it came off as mildly aspirational.

And how ‘Beautifully British’ is the MG 6 anyway, when it was Chinese funds that propped it up, and most of the car is made in China for only final assembly in the Midlands? As Edward Sheldon pointed out in the AROnline Facebook group, a much better approach would be to distinguish the MG 6 by making the notion of “buying German” seem me-tooish.

New ad for MG6 by Michael GreenlandTarget the MG 6 at the non-conformist, those individualistic buyers who don’t want to drive yet another Focus or BMW Dreier. Even the off-the-cuff copy that Edward came up with in conversation (‘Exclusivity is a myth. Follow your Heart’) is better than the drivel MG originated.

While it might not be the better car, at least those who opt for a 6 know they are bucking the trend – after all, people have bought outclassed French cars in some segments because they didn’t want to seem like the chap next door.

What is even more interesting is that the promotions for the same car in China are far more interesting, with a greater need to cut through the clutter that is 2010s Chinese advertising. The use of MG’s history, the ‘Morris Garages’ legend, and a ridiculous storyline that makes the Milk Tray Man seem dull help turn the 6 into a far more appealing proposition, even if not all of it translates well into English. But Britishness, in this case, seems to work far better – it looks like the Chinese agency understands subtlety, using the smallest of hints.

Granted, I am comparing a web advert to a video, but still…

Jack Yan


  1. I totally agree, I think the advertising efforts in the UK are, to be blunt, p*ss poor! It;s not only the daft, ill-conceived, almost childish slogans they have adopted, it’s the use of poor images of the cars that do nothing to sell them. I cannot understand why it is so difficult for them unless this is all being handled in-house. If it is, then that might explain it, because whilst they are great people i’m sure, they seem more familiar with the marketing requirements of a local off-licence rather than a car manufacturer with Global aspirations in it’s sight…

    They do seem to be getting it more right in China and whilst I agree it could come across a bit strong over here, I don;t see why not. MG has never had much of an advertising push in the past so why not just take the bull by the horns and go with the Chinese approach? It’ll get noticed and there is such a rich history to use (not just parading an MGB around on telly – I hasten to add!)

  2. I think there are two problems with MG. one is the car in my oppinion is not stunning to look at, its ok but its not stunning ive not seen one in the flesh though. the other problem is…while it might be an MG badge which has been around for a while…it is pretty much a new motor company. that would make me think…I think ill let someone else buy one first..especially as my mate tells me its got a flakey rover engine in it (ok, maybe the engine is better now, but we dont know for sure)…mean while Ill buy a Kia or Suzuki and put some mags of my choice on it. MG have though made some arrangements with rental car companies, and this might help put them on the map. …aye its not a bad car that one….(I ‘ope) ill tell my Ma to get one…..also..and .dont forget we are in a global recession still. i still think MG are intentionally only entering the market gently so as not to create to much risk if things go wrong, but I guess even if i was them would be expecting things to pick up by now. but to pretend to be German..not a chance it might be more reliable than some of them….but I doubt its a better car than a 318. alex

  3. I like the anti german approach 🙂 its a bit like when the dolomite sprint took on the 2002 ti and the 220 GTi the sjerman gti’s sadly it didn’t work…

  4. I admire Jack Yan’s huge, massive understatement when he describes MG’s advert as “pretty awful”. Its the most unimaginative, unoriginal miss-leading nonsense I’ve seen in a long time. Truly terribly – and sales figures are backing up my opinion.

  5. Why dont we try and talk the brand down some more,and the german cars lovers-bimmerforums is free to join too.

  6. Francis, its not talking it down, its begging MG to listen! In the eyes of the non Rover enthusiast spectrum MG has the same effect as “Yugo” did in the 80’s

    The MG6 is a good car, not spectacular granted. But its overpriced, wrongly equipped (no automatics, no diesels), with poor predicted residuals? Would you spend a years wages on one or buy 3 magic beans instead?

  7. I saw the ad on Autocade website and thought what the hell were they thinking of! I think the marketing apprentice at the college I work at could do something better. It is very amateurish.

  8. @7 i wouldnt spend a years wages on any car really,all i am saying is no matter what comes up on here,the MG6/SAIC get derided for any attempt at whatever they are doing and it leads to contagion.I understand and respect opinions on the matter but i have said for ages now its going to be slow slow for MG.No one stopped buying MGs because they became chinese overnight,they stopped years ago and various people are to blame-its all been said before,i am trying to think positive about the marque and hope it succeeds.Where is renault in the UK nowadays? Citreon sell as many DS3’s as C3’s(the DS i find frumpy)so all in all the motoring landscape is changing,maybe SAIC is wating for the europe financial disaster to unfold-which it will and start something bigger than what they are doing now,who knows eh?

  9. MG has been slow of the mark with promoting the cars, lack of TV adverts etc, Its been a to long gap in time so buying public bought else where,if the 750, or 550 was made avaible then the MGs would have been more sellable perhsps.Regards Mark

  10. I laughed at the use of the term “consumer perceptions” in paragraph 2. Most consumers have no perception at all – they don’t even now it, the MG6, even exists. Case in point – I work for a packing company whose main customers are in the automotive sector. It’s owners believed, until I informed them otherwise, that Longbridge had totally ceased to be!

  11. @ Markh

    I still think they should have sold the MG3 Streetwise here, along with the MG7/ZT, earlier on and they would at least have had a basic foothold and possibly reacquired former MG Rover buyers

  12. @11 Good point, Francis, regarding SAIC holding back until they see the Europe situation unfold.

    I had my third MG6 sighting last week. This time it actually appeared to be a customer’s car as opposed to a demonstrator.

  13. @12 The MG6 in the picture looks great,it looks like its moving while stood still-not so the focus.

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