Monday, 21 January 2008

Sick cat - the problem

Jaguar is a not a happy cat. Sales have been tumbling since Ford bought the marque in 1989. Last year it hemorrhaged a little less than in previous years losing a $100 million, despite a healthy luxury market. Half the problem was the accountants' approach to car building which has produced a glorified Ford (now sorted I think). But the other half of the problem is Jaguar's image. Take for example their expensive “Gorgeous” campaign in 2005:

My beef is that there was no repositioning away from the main commercial obstacle, namely that it’s still behaving like old man's car. The spot is supposed to appeal to the jet-set but, for me, it comes across as way too glossy (and even sickly - how many times was 'gorgeous' slopped about in the copy?)

Where was the passion building like the BMW Films or Audi Channel? The Jaguar site is also a bit flat, never getting deeper than the gloss of stills, the occasional video and that horrible use of simulated page turning. Nothing compared to the likes of the Audi R8 site, BMW Pace or the Mercedes R-Class microsite.

The brand used to stand for menacing pace and luxury and now looks a bit behind the times. It should have the all the appeal of Aston Martin - recently voted Britain's coolest brand - but sadly it doesn't. Personally, I don't think the problem is with the cars; the new ones are beautiful:

Jaguar XK 2008Jaguar XF 2008

As Jaguar changes hands now is the perfect time to regain that lost trick. Something needs to be done so that those Ford, elitist jet-set and old-man associations quickly disappear in the rear-view mirror and the marque can start making some financial distance. Instead of being the car of the retiring director this should be the intelligent choice for the high-level executive. In the next post I'll give some ideas about how to achieve this injection of youth and intelligence using non-traditional media.

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