Land Rover North America, facing more competition in the luxury sport-utility category, has turned to infomercials for the first time. Its 26-minute infomercial debuts Tuesday, July 20, on 15 national cable stations. Depending on the station, Land Rover will have three or four minutes per airing to run separate brand commercials.
'The longer format of an infomercial allows us to delve into exactly what makes Land Rover ownership so special,' said Chris Marchand, model manager of Range Rover who headed the project. 'We're making sure we promote the strengths of our product with the resources we have.'
Although the infomercial is nearly 30 minutes long, it costs a fraction of what a 30-second TV commercial would cost and provides more information, he said. He declined to reveal the cost. But ad industry experts estimate the average production cost of a 30-second commercial is $300,000 to $600,000.
TELLING THE STORY
Land Rover spent $29.3 million in measured media last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. That's a pittance compared with other car-truck brands.
The infomercial discusses the company's 50-year history, the Land Rover Centres dealerships, the off-road capabilities of the Range Rover and Discovery and off-road driving techniques.
Viewers can call toll-free to order the Land Rover Journal, a lifestyle magazine with product data and branded merchandise; The Authoritative Guide to Sport Utility Vehicles; and a 60-minute video of the brand's history, The Fifty Year Adventure. The magazine and the guide are free; the video is $4.95.
Vermont Studio in Putney, Vt., which has made training and travel films for Land Rover, produced the program. Andy Mill, a former member of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, co-hosts the infomercial with Tom Collins. Collins is a veteran of the grueling annual Camel Trophy Adventures road trip and is Land Rover's lead off-road driving instructor.
1ST-HALF SALES RISE
Both men live in Aspen, Colo., which is how they met former Land Rover President Charlie Hughes, who has a home there.
Land Rover is part of Rover Group, which was acquired by BMW AG in 1994. Land Rover sold 13,562 sport-utilities in the United States in the first half of 1999 vs. 10,053 in the same period a year ago.
Consultant Jay Houghton, automotive account director at Oracle Corp.'s Troy, Mich., office, said Land Rover is smart to use infomercials because it is selling a lifestyle, not a mass-market vehicle. So it needs more time to tell that story. Houghton develops customer-relationship software for auto clients.
'For some niche brands, like Rover, your products are a very complex symbol and part of your individualized lifestyle,' he said. 'You can't develop lifestyle marketing in 30 seconds.'