One of the joys of being stuck at home is that there’s always a chance to go through the library and revisit some of those old books, magazines and other material for amusement. In my case, I’m currently heading towards the end of a stint of self-isolation and, rifling through some of my files, I found this little gem.
It was sent to me by a reader (who preferred not to be named) some time ago, and provides a fascinating insight into the build up to the launch of a new car. It’s a well-produced briefing document that’s been put together for company employees responsible for external communications. The model concerned is the Rover 75 – a car, in which much of the company’s future direction lay – so it’s understandable that the marketeers wanted to ensure that the all the information about its new baby was 100% on message.
Within its pages were guidelines on how the car would be referred to, how the car should be photographed, the style and presentation of all materials and even the language used. Fascinating stuff… I have to say that I’ve not seen a document like this produced for any ‘Firm’ car before this one, and it explains why the messaging was so consistent – at least in the early days following the 75’s launch. It’s a shame that Bernd Pischetsrieder did so much to undo the launch, with his attack on the Government which questioned the company’s future presence in the UK.
- Read more: Rover 75 launch – torpedoed by the boss
Here are some gems from this document, produced in 1999:
Where are we now?
Awareness of the Rover brand varies considerably around the world. In a key volume market like Germany, we are virtually unknown whereas the UK is the home market and the brand is well known, though not necessarily for the right reasons. Despite these big differences in awareness, people who do know the brand share two consistent views of Rover worldwide.
The first thing they agree on is that Rover tends to be a cut above the mass market.
We lag measurably behind Mercedes and BMW – the ‘Royals’ – and slightly behind Volvo, Audi and Saab – the ‘Emergent Royals’. However, in order to achieve the positioning and justify the premium set out in the Rover mission, we need to build desirability for the brand and make Rover an ‘Emergent Royal’ too.
The second consistent opinion of Rover worldwide is our reputation for making cars with stylish interiors and exteriors. This is what puts us ahead of the mainstream with people who know the brand. However, Rover is not seen to be strong on functional qualities like reliability, robustness or safety. So the brand is not seen to be challenging the Royals or the Emergent Royals.
All this very much affects how people react to the Rover 75. Initially, they are really impressed by the looks of our new car. But this enthusiastic emotional reaction. is immediately followed by concern or even worry about the rational justification for buying into the Rover brand. Choosing Rover could be a risk and how much of a risk depends on their awareness, knowledge and familiarity with the brand.
To sell the Rover 75, we first need to sell the Rover brand. We need to make it clear that Rover – our company, our people, our brand – stands for some thing relevant and different in the marketplace, and that the Rover 75 is the embodiment of our beliefs. We need to communicate the substance of Rover.
The Launch Identity
You enjoy taking the long way home, you want to give friends a lift, you want to share the experience of motoring pleasure. The more you drive it, the better it gets. What we’re describing here is a very human experience – individual and personal. It’s the essence of complete motoring pleasure: a strategy faithful to Rover’s past which will celebrate the renaissance of the brand for the future.
In this section of the guidelines, we have explained. clearly and precisely what we should be saying for the launch of the Rover 75. But clearly how we say it is of critical importance, because the launch of the Rover 75 is the renaissance of the Rover brand.
Our communications must have scale, energy and confidence. We will not attract people to Rover’s vision by concentrating on functional detail. Warmth and humanity are vital: they are inherent in the values of the Rover brand and key to differentiating Rover from competitors obsessed with the functionality of the machine. We must be bold and brave in questioning and challenging the conventional reasons why premium cars are made and bought.
Photographing the Rover 75
The Rover 75 looks stunning from every point of view, but there are certain angles which make the most of the car’s elegant proportions. You should shoot where the vehicle was positioned on a turntable and photographed in black and white from 0° to 360° in 10° increments from five different camera heights.
We need to be consistent in using these preferred angles, knowing why they are important for the communication process.
- Shoot high on the rear to show the proportions of the car
- Use a longer lens to photograph the front
- Shoot low to demonstrate the proportion of bodywork
- Shoot high to show the elegant tapering of the body
- Shoot front angles that show the saloon shape
- Don’t shoot high on the front: it makes the car look too narrow
- Don’t shoot very low at the front: it distorts the lines, makes the nose look too high
- Don’t shoot straight on to the front or rear: it doesn’t show the size of the car
- Don’t shoot low on the car profile: it doesn’t show the elegance of the lines
- Beware of angles that make the car look like a hatchback