DETROIT -- The Bentley Bentayga has received the Rick Ross seal of approval.
An online video that emerged in January shows the braggadocious rapper, who routinely flaunts his Bentley fleet on social media, doing a walkaround of the brand's first utility vehicle. The video circulated on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, generating a surge of free publicity for the Bentayga months before its U.S. debut.
A Bentley spokesperson said Ross has put a down payment on the vehicle, which surely will be a frequent guest on his various social media accounts that have amassed millions of followers.
Bentley welcomes the exposure provided by its celebrity clientele. The exclusive brand doesn't drop cash on traditional TV advertising, so grabbing attention through social media is an essential piece of its marketing strategy.
The Bentayga -- with a top speed of 187 mph and a base price of $229,100 before shipping -- is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in April or May.
Michael Winkler, who runs Bentley's Americas operation as CEO of Bentley Motors Inc., spoke about the brand's marketing philosophy with Staff Reporter Vince Bond Jr. in January at a new showroom in suburban Detroit, where Bentley later treated prospective buyers to a sneak peek at the Bentayga.
Q: How is Bentley going to promote the Bentayga?
A: The big part is the experiential part of the marketing experience and marketing mix. You've got to get someone to drive and experience the car. Most other competitors, as far as they exist in the price segment we're dealing with, are really more about being chauffeured, whereas a Bentley is ... a car where you want to drive yourself. You want to feel it and have that ambience around you while you're behind the wheel.
What type of story does Bentley want to tell with the Bentayga?
In a nutshell, it's the fastest SUV in the true luxury segment. There are a lot of good SUVs out there, a lot of good premium SUVs out there, but there just isn't a luxury SUV out there yet.