PR Car Wars: Porsche v. Jaguar v. Rolls-Royce

PR Car Wars

Porsche, Jaguar, and Rolls-Royce are all great brands.  Each bring years of class to their clientele, as well as, brand names virtually synonymous with luxury and the high life. Yet, they all win their PR and marketing races via different routes.

We’ve compared key strategies they share, and what sets them apart from the competition.

Sports Car Blue

Similarities in PR and Branding

Boosting Brand Status with Celebrity Ambassadors

All three brands rely on some kind of celebrity endorsement.  In December 2015, Cramer-Krasselt created an ad for the Porsche 911, featuring heavy celebrity endorsements from boxer, Muhammad Ali; tennis player, Maria Sharapova; and chess master, Magnus Carlsen. Their ad implies since ‘the best’ has no true contenders, it must challenge itself to grow, and arrive at superior results from personal efforts.

Similarly, Jaguar hired big names to show the world how good it is to be bad for its British Villains campaign. the carmaker hired British actors known for playing bad boys in films including Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Strong. Previously, Jaguar partnered with Sting in 2000 to work on the Desert Rose ad campaign. PR partner, Ogilvy, made this campaign a reality.

Rolls-Royce, on the other hand, relies on free endorsement from celebrities who purchase the vehicles as a symbol of status. Well-known owners of Rolls-Royce include several members of the Kardashian-Jenner family, Waka Flocka, Tom Brady, T.I., Shaq, Jennifer Lopez, and David Beckham.

Independent Branding

One thing perhaps only well known among car enthusiasts is all three luxury companies are owned by other carmakers. Indian company, TATA Motors owns Jaguar. VW Group owns Porsche, who also once owned the rights to build Rolls-Royce cars until it sold them to BMW, who now owns the brand. This allows each brand to develop independently as separate luxury entities, without being held back by their parent companies.

While most people agree BMW represents luxury and style, no one would place the company in the same class as a Rolls-Royce. Many people can afford a BMW, but a Rolls-Royce is far beyond the reach of most. Likewise, Porsche’s separate-branding from VW Group allowed it to remain mostly untouched by VW Group’s emission scandals occurring in 2015. And since few people even know of TATA, or would equate the brand with luxury, Jaguar has developed independently as a symbol of sophistication.

Balancing Outsourcing with In-House Activities

All three car-makers outsource much of their PR and ad campaigns to agencies specializing in these areas and lending support. Porsche has worked with big names like Cramer-Krasselt, Ogilvy & Mather, and Brandware Public Relations.

Similarly, Jaguar worked with the Cogent Elliot, Havas Worldwide, Connect, The Mint, Mindshare, and RBH agencies. The company’s previous in-house agency, Spark 44, now manages virtually all ad campaigns.

Rolls-Royce takes a slightly different approach from its competitors. While it has worked on campaigns with firms like bespoke, JMPR, Bulletin, and Focus PR, the company also maintains a strong PR engine in-house reducing the need for outside help. Instead, Rolls-Royce mostly works with PR and ad firms on a project basis. Even so, in late 2011, the brand added KBS&P as their agency of record.

Car Differences

Differences in Strategy

The companies share several strategies though they sometimes pursue them differently. Each company also pursues different mediums to craft success.

Porsche – Staying Positive

Yellow Porsche

While separate branding from VW Group spared Porsche much of the backlash received by its parent company, the Porsche nonetheless faces pressure from authorities to fix emission problems. Clients and customers know of Porsche’s affiliation with VW, but expect a higher performance from their cars and the company.

Porsche remains positive, despite being caught in the crossfire. Rather than focus on the negative effects of the VW scandal, Porsche looks at positive results they’ve had during the year. In a press release, the brand celebrated almost a quarter of a million cars delivered around the world and continues branding the Porsche 911.

Jaguar – #GoodToBeBad

In 2014, Jaguar debuted on the Super Bowl advertising list for the first time. Yet the carmaker and its rowdy social media team learned quickly and virtually hijacked the Super Bowl ad opportunities for itself. This further supported its villainous reputation, pushed by a British Villains campaign beginning in November 2014.

While athletes fought for the winning position on the field, Jaguar waged a deliciously villainous war against other brands, behind the scenes. Victims of Jaguar’s bad-boy antics included luxury competitors like Lexus, Audi, and Maserati. And when it had cleared the field of auto-contenders, it even took on Tide and Tidy Cats.

According to Adweek:

“In the case of Tide, the detergent company made Vine videos that reacted to the TV commercials of other brands. Jaguar’s creative team, Spark 44, saw Tide’s strategy and shot a Vine in response.

The Vine showed laundered shirts and black gloves, and a hint of a Tide bottle: A proper British villain is always prepared. No matter how messy it gets.’

The on-the-fly Vine ended with a card that read: #goodtobebad.”

In this scenario, Jaguar showed not just amazing creativity, but the ability to think on its feet, and escape any public backlash for its mischief. In return, the entire campaign earned followers, mentions, and general visibility.

Rolls Royce – Too Sexy for… Basically Everything

Sexy Sportscar

Sex Sells

One method Rolls-Royce relies on more than Porsche and Jaguar is the power of sex to sell basically anything – including cars. The website’s front page features a woman in white, wet latex with smoky eyes, red lips, and long legs, in a pose accentuating her derriere. In addition, the site features warm colors declaring “dawn is here” and inviting customers to “be seduced.”

Does Not Use Traditional Mediums

Rolls-Royce is also too sexy to use traditional mediums like TV advertisements, and print ads. It rarely – if ever – uses these methods. Instead, the company focuses more on reaching clients directly and encouraging car owners to participate in loyalty programs. This sets them apart from Jaguar and Porsche, who rely heavily on TV ad campaigns to remain relevant in the market.

Exclusive Ownership

Rolls-Royce’s reason to avoid traditional ad campaigns is remaining exclusive. Catering to the needs of an exclusive market and proudly selling under 3,000 cars per year. In 2011, the company sold just 2,711 cars. This makes a Rolls-Royce a rarity in even wealthy circles, making it more desirable as a status statement.

rolls royce logo

The Winner

Rolls-Royce wins this round hands-down. While all three cars make a name for themselves in the luxury car market, Rolls-Royce is a world apart from all the others. The car company is so prestigious it doesn’t require aggressive ad campaigns like Jaguar.

The company took big risks in refusing to use traditional PR methods while going the extra mile ensuring each hand-crafted Rolls-Royce satisfies the demands of customers. This pressure on exclusivity, and clever utilization of the ‘sex sells’ mantra shows Rolls-Royce is a true King in the world of luxury.

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