A car crash of a brand partnership – Beckham and Land Rover

Oh dear..who looks worse the dodgy car salesman in classic estate agent suit or dodgy former pop star who still fools people into thinking that she is a brand......

Hot on the heels of the worst brand partnership of all time, Trump’s Success (http://chrisreed.brandrepublic.com/2012/03/30/the-world%E2%80%99s-worst-brand-partnership-ever/) comes a very close second….Victoria Beckham and Range Rover.

British automaker Land Rover is creating hype for its Range Rover “Evoque” model designed by “model, singer and fashion designer” (I use these terms very lightly…..singer, really?, fashion designer, really?, model, really?) Victoria Beckham that the automaker has limited to 200 vehicles for sale worldwide (is that because that’s the most that the she can hope David will pay for?).

Land Rover created a viral multichannel campaign surrounding the vehicle release by putting on an event in the Chinese capital of Beijing April 22 that was backed by social media marketing via the automaker and Ms. Beckham. Why Beijing? Was she hoping that this would mean no one would criticize her and this terrible brand partnership?

“Any time there is a partnership between two brands with two unique identities, you need to ensure that there are compatible equities to share between the two brands,” said Karen Kreamer, President (it’s always bad if they are president….) of Ks Brand Consulting, Overland Park, KS, who put the deal together, clearly not recognizing any irony to what she was saying. Really? Range Rover and Victoria Beckham? What possible shared brand values do these two “brands” have?

“In the case of Range Rover’s collaboration with Victoria Beckham, there are shared equities between the two brands that make sense in terms of a brand partnership such as the British legacy, award-winning design credentials and global brand awareness,” she continued to justify her job with…so the fact that they are both British is enough is it? Award winning design?

Global brand awareness?….what evidence is there of this and if she is known for this it’s for all the wrong reasons….she’s a laughing stock.  No one takes either of the Beckham’s seriously…or if they do they are perpetuating the myth that brand “Beckham” means something to someone not related to either of them or trying to sell celebrity magazine or newspaper……!

Apparently Ms. Beckham worked with the Land Rover design team to create mood boards that reflected her personal style and

translated that into the bespoke vehicle. For example, Ms. Beckham inspired the use of rose gold from a similar-colored men’s watch she wore. If you were writing a parody of a celebrity endorsed car this would easily be produced and shown on Channel 4 as a “mockumentary”…….this surely cannot be taking itself seriously….is it April 1st again?

The automaker hopes to draw the attention of affluent consumers in international markets such as China, Russia and Brazil where Land Rover is growing and where no one has heard of the Beckhams…or if they have they are the same sad people who clad themselves out in Burberry from top to tail and believe that they are both fashionable and tastefull…..and haven’t yet realised that they look like a joke.

Ms. Beckham recently joined Facebook and is sharing news, photos and videos on her page about the vehicle. The Facebook page has accumulated more than 134,000  very very sad fans. That in itself says a lot about the kind of people on facebook…..and stupid enough to follow a plastic celeb.

The automaker is also using a microsite to showcase the vehicle at http://victoriabeckham.landrover.com that shows artistic (no not that type of “artistic”…..) photos of Ms. Beckham next to the vehicle….no really…it does….the days of naked ladies next to cars in the 70’s springs to mind…….Donald Trump, all is forgiven, suddenly “Success by Trump” makes so much sense……..

  • Neil Hopkins

    Oh why not.  There’s only 200 of the things being made.
    If you’re going to buy a Chelsea Tractor to tackle the steep inclines and difficult decents of SE1, then you might as well buy one designed by someone who probably wouldn’t know what to do with the business end of a winch if it attached itself to her panther and gave it a good hard tug…

  • Andrew Griffiths

    This is a fairly weak argument as to why it’s such a failure of a brand partnership. I actually think it makes perfect sense in terms of reaching the objectives of both brands.

    If you were to think back a few years, the Beckham’s didn’t hold much in the way of credibility. However, Victoria Beckham has now firmly earned the global fashion industry’s respect as a fully fledged designer, receiving critical acclaim from those in the know at international fashion weeks and selling out collections around the world. As such, she’s a fairly ideal candidate to be an ambassador for the Evoque, a car aimed at a more style conscious, younger audience than the rest of the Range Rover fleet. 

    Admittedly, some of the wording to describe the partnership may be a bit painful, but such is the hyperbole of marketing copy sometimes. For the consumer, it’s about seeing a car as being fashion forward, given the seal of approval by one of the world’s most recognizable style icons and all of the aspiration that goes with that. So her involvement in the creative process may be the lightest of touches, so what? It will ensure Range Rover gets in front of the style conscious audience it wants to, in the emerging markets it needs to be seen in. For Victoria Beckham, she gets the kudos of being associated with a luxury car marque in a country where they’re eager to spend money on big brand luxury. Ticks all the boxes from where I’m sitting. 

    • Neil Hopkins

       I think some of the issues come when you look at brands like Toyota, Nissan and increasingly Peugeot and Citroen who are putting design at the heart of the build, not as some add on frippery.  That’s much more authentic and meaningful, in my opinion.
      But otherwise, I agree with you, Andrew!

  • ChrisJReed

    Thanks Neil but have to disagree with both Andrew and Neil. In a straw poll of marketing professionals that i raised this with at a marketing conference in Indonesia who know the UK market, they all thought it was a joke, a mismatch, and ploy and bid to dupe the public. We know that VB is not designing this and to claim that she is is tacky and beneath Land Rover as a brand.

    As i have always disliked the four wheel drive brand for its country toffs and fox hunting associations then they are welcome to make this mistake and look foolish but really VB has credibility? If you think that then UK design really has gone to the dogs…..

  • Sara Beneroso Prats

    I couldn’t agree more with you Chris. Everybody in the auto industry in China knows that Land Rover has not been able to capitalize on auto sales in China, far behind from brands like Porsche, that relied on their traditional branding to capture Chinese consumers (of course with the appropiate elements of localisation). In my opinion, this partnership is a new desperate attemp from LR to capture 25-35 yr old Chinese female drivers (which in brands like Ferrari count up to 40% of their sales in China), something they haven’t been able to do till date (no wonder why they haven’t ventured to produce more than 200 units…for the China market, really? just 200?) . While the sales rush for lux brands comes to an end in China, brands need to make sure they are targeting the right demographic/segments, as it will be in 5/10 years when the fruits from today’s brands in China will be collected…

  • Lorna Wooldridge

    I do not understand the theory behind this at all – Land Rover appears to have lost it’s route as an off-road car and Victoria Beckham does not appear to be the type to have an off-road vehicle. 

    The celebrity icon here is one of the most inaccurate I’ve seen – she is a petite woman, and the vehicles are great big, heavy chunks of machinery that seem to take up the majority of the road. David Beckham would have been much better suited than Victoria Beckham, but in all honesty neither should have been chosen. An athlete would have been ideal. I understand her participation in creating mood boards but I feel the artistic impression created suggests sleek and stylish – stylish yes, sleek not at all. Completely the wrong car to give that impression of. 

    It wasn’t necessary to put her in the ads… she does not suit the brand image of Land Rover.