Jaguar has launched a marketing campaign to spice up its staid image.
The multimedia effort, called "Alive," was unveiled in February on YouTube and Facebook. U.S. TV commercials begin this week, and national print ads debut in April.
It is Jaguar's first major marketing campaign since India's Tata Motors bought the company from Ford Motor Co. in 2008. The campaign portrays Jaguar as a brand that stirs emotions with a commercial that asks, "How alive are you?"
Jaguar also is changing its logo, vehicle badges and dealer signs.
"Jaguar is a brand at the beginning of a rebirth and a relaunch," said Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar global brand director. "We have developed an all-new brand positioning, effectively a brand reset."
Jaguar's 165 U.S. dealers will be required to change signs and logos as part of new facilities standards. Those standards are being developed, said David Pryor, brand vice president of Jaguar North America. No timetable has been set.
As cars are redesigned or freshened, a new growling Jaguar face will be incorporated into the grille, hubcaps and center of the steering wheel. The leaping cat on the back of the vehicle and the Jaguar logo on the side vents will be updated. The changes roll out with the 2013 model year, Pryor said.
He said Tata Motors has doubled Jaguar's 2012 U.S. marketing budget from last year but declined to give details.
"It is part of the investment that Tata is making in the market," Pryor said. "The U.S. is a strategic market for Jaguar."
Jaguar spent $19.5 million on marketing in the first nine months of 2011, according to Kantar Media. Data for the full year are not yet available.
Although the Alive campaign is global, Pryor said the U.S. marketing team was heavily involved. The TV commercials were produced and shot in the United States. Jaguar uses Spark44 of London, which it partially owns, for its U.S. and global marketing.
Jaguar also is taking the show on the road.
In April, it will launch an 18-city U.S. tour that will offer test drives to 20,000 targeted potential owners.
Pryor said Jaguar is trying to fix its image problem.
"People do not see the modern products we have today," he said. "The real core of Alive is to get people to stop and think about Jaguar."
The redesigned XJ sedan and the freshened XF sedan and XK coupe and convertible have shed Jaguar's retro styling, Pryor said. With each model change, he said, Jaguar has made its interiors more luxurious.
These styling changes haven't registered with consumers, said Pryor, 48, who was lured from Porsche Cars North America in April to spice up the Jaguar brand. At Porsche, Pryor is credited with the TV spots that portrayed the 911 sports car as a daily driver rather than a high-speed performer -- showing real owners hauling supplies, children and driving through snow.
"When we talk to consumers out there, everyone understands that Jaguar means a premium luxury car," he said. "But they think we make the cars that we made 20 years ago -- the retro-styled cars. The cars we have today are going in a modern direction -- the interior, exterior and the performance is competitive with anything in the segment."
Pryor said Jaguar is avoiding the technology-focused marketing used by its German competitors because it is "too cold."
Jaguar's new TV commercial, called "Machine," shows images of machines through the ages and then a Jaguar. The announcer says: "It is as alive as we are. It doesn't click or buzz. It roars."
A print ad for the XK, titled "Looks like somebody's getting a new Jaguar," depicts a black-and-white sonogram of a leaping Jaguar in the womb, as expectant parents would see an unborn child.
The average age of a Jaguar buyer is 56, Pryor said. To attract younger buyers, Jaguar is stepping up its digital marketing. In November, it launched the Alive campaign on the Jaguar USA YouTube channel with commercials and product videos.
The channel got 500,000 more views in November than October, and the cost "was almost nothing -- it was a vindication of investing in this area," Pryor said.
Rob Elder, president of the Elder Automotive Group in suburban Detroit, said it has been about seven years since Jaguar had such a broad marketing campaign.
"It gives you more confidence as a dealer when you see the brand stepping it up and spending more money," said Elder, who has one Jaguar store in Florida and three in Michigan.