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North America:Range Rover's return to TV focuses on 'Respect'

By MARK RECHTIN | Automotive News

LOS ANGELES -- Following a five-year absence, Land Rover is returning its flagship Range Rover to national TV as part of a 90-day campaign that will account for one-third of the automaker's advertising budget.

In the campaign's single TV spot, shot in Bangkok, Thailand, a respected figure is being paraded through a crowd in an ornate palanquin.

Just as the procession arrives at a side street, a Range Rover appears. A hand emerges from the palanquin and waves the Range Rover on. The implication, and the tagline: "Respect."

"The ad is about the prestige of the Range Rover being recognized anywhere in the world," says Andrew Polsinelli, general manager of marketing communications for Land Rover North America. "It has authority, and it deserves respect."

The message is carried into a print and outdoor campaign, which bears the tagline, "Not A. The."

"Certain models have recognition that goes beyond the brand," Polsinelli says. "When you have a Rolex President, you say you have a President, and Rolex owners understand. Same with the Range Rover."

He says that the automaker originally was called Range Rover North America but changed its name to Land Rover with the arrival of the Defender.

Land Rover North America and its regional dealer ad associations spent about $93 million in advertising in 2002, according to Competitive Media Reporting. But spending exclusively on the Range Rover barely broke the $12 million mark, even though the vehicle was in a launch year.

Polsinelli declines to give the spending figure for 2003 but says the Range Rover campaign will account for about one-third of Land Rover's annual media budget. Through April, Land Rover had spent about $20 million on advertising, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Sales of the Range Rover for the first six months of 2003 were up 37.5 percent to 4,483 units, according to the Automotive News Data Center. But that gain is compared to a sell-down period for the outgoing model.

Range Rover sales in June dropped 37.4 percent from June 2002, the first month-over-month comparison to the redesigned vehicle. Total Land Rover North America sales are off 4.4 percent for the year and were down 15.9 percent in June.

The TV spots will air on financial and news networks, morning news-magazine shows and selected summer reruns of "West Wing" and "Law & Order." Print ads will appear in The Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily, lifestyle magazines such as Architectural Digest and Wine Spectator, and car enthusiast magazines.

Billboards will appear in Land Rover's top-selling markets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Miami, Polsinelli says. The ads began in mid-June and will run into September, with a chance that they will be extended.

Land Rover also is trying to expand the breadth of who considers buying the Range Rover, which costs $71,865, including destination. About half of Range Rover buyers looked at no other vehicle.

But only a few Range Rover buyers are moving up from the Discovery, which starts at $34,990. That leaves a large portion of cross-shoppers, most of whom have a German luxury sedan or sports car.

"There are people who have a perception of Range Rover, and people who know Range Rover," Polsinelli says. "People may have heard of the Range Rover but had not considered it if they were looking at a Mercedes S class."

To increase the size of its audience, Land Rover has launched a "lifestyle-experience" tour in six cities. About 200 wealthy customers are expected to attend each event, which will have on- and off-road driving areas as well as demonstrations for Vieluxe barbecue grills, Smith & Hawken orchids and Holland & Holland shotguns.

"We're keeping it small, because the high-end customer doesn't want to get stuck in line with 500 people and their kids," Polsinelli says. "We want to keep people moving. It has to have the feel of a special event."

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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