Freelander starts N.A. road tour

Land Rover North America's "Road to Adventure" program is scheduled to kick off today, Oct. 1.

The program, which will give consumers across the United States and Canada sneak previews and test drives of the Freelander sport-utility, had been slated to start Sept. 23 but was postponed after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Land Rover is just the latest automaker to bring its product to the people. Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Saab and Dodge have run similar marketing programs this year.

Twenty-five Freelanders, divided into five teams, will tour about 60 U.S. cities; Montreal; Toronto; and Vancouver, British Columbia, over seven weeks. The small sport-utilities will stop at Land Rover dealerships, concerts, sporting events and other activities. The vehicle will go on sale in December in North America.

To help promote the program, Land Rover hired two public relations companies. Bailey & Bailey Communications in Cleveland is handling national publicity. Kerezy Communications Inc., also in Cleveland, is securing a network of 27 PR companies across North America - most of them members of PRConsultants Group.

Land Rover is spending about $113,500 on the program. Each dealership will pay a $4,000 promotional tab when the tour comes to its store, said Pat Hubert, manager of Land Rover Hoffman Estates in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Later this month, the tour will stop at the Hoffman Estates dealership and the two other stores owned by Bill Jacobs in the Chicago area.

"We'll put it in the newspaper and have giveaways and discounts," Hubert said. "We'll invite the Land Rover club. This will give us a customer base that can grow with us, up to Discovery and Range Rover."

Jacobs' three stores combined have deposits for at least 16 Freelanders, which have a base price of $25,600, including destination charges. Each of Jacobs' locations will receive 40 units for the first three months of sales, Hubert said. He said the Hoffman Estates dealership so far has signed up 25 Freelander test drives during the Road to Adventure visit.

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