"There had been a period where Jaguar was trying to be something that it is not," says Bibiana Boerio, managing director of Jaguar Cars. "We had lost something along the way. We needed to bring Jaguar back to the things it stood for -- being about beautiful, fast cars."
The ads borrow ideas from the world of couture, where image is as important as the product. The Jaguar spots suggest Tommy Hilfiger. If the commercials had a scent, it would be Chanel, not gasoline.
"This is a needed message, to put the cachet and glamour back into the Jaguar brand," says C.J. O'Donnell, executive vice president of marketing and sales for Jaguar North America.
Jaguar calls the campaign "Gorgeous." Actor Willem Dafoe repeats the word often in his voiceover narration of one of the ads.
"Gorgeous makes effort look effortless. Gorgeous has no love for logic. Gorgeous gets in everywhere. Gorgeous pays for itself in the first five seconds. Gorgeous is worth it," Dafoe intones over a haunting keyboard track.
Jaguar's new global ad agency, Fuel, conceived the campaign. Fuel, an offshoot of Euro RSCG, shot the three TV spots mostly in black and white. They intersperse shots of Jaguars in motion with scenes of the languid life of the jet-set elite. Two of the ads have only background music, without narration.
The commercials will be almost identical around the world. Boerio notes that most Jaguar customers share common lifestyle denominators. The automaker need not make changes for specific markets, she says.
Jaguar plans what it calls "stunt executions," in which it will use 90-second commercials next month in metropolitan markets such as New York, San Francisco and Miami. The spots will appear during such shows as "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and "The American Music Awards," all on ABC.
Later, 30- and 60-second versions of the ads will appear regularly on TV. The commercials also will be shown at art-house cinemas.
Jaguar is running print ads for the campaign in such high-end magazines as W, Conde Nast Traveler and The Robb Report.