Land Rover Gets Into the Action

LOS ANGELES In commercial production, the term “hero car” usually refers to the squeaky-clean vehicle kept on hand for glamour shots. But Young & Rubicam Brands is giving that nickname new meaning in a Land Rover campaign that puts the LR3 in harm’s way.

Y&R creative director Miles Turpin said the campaign would center on dramatic documentary footage of the LR3 maneuvering through actual disaster areas.

Pictures in a Row director Scott Duncan is helming the work. When a natural disaster strikes, he and his crew go on location to capture footage. For example, when floods hit Levasy, Mo., last month, Duncan’s crew swooped in like a SWAT team to film the LR3 in action.

Turpin said the first spot, breaking next week, would show the LR3 using its hydraulic lift and sealed undercarriage to navigate flooded streets strewn with disabled cars.

“Our strategic insight came from planning,” said Turpin, who joined the agency in September after working on Toyota at Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi. “Land Rovers are designed way beyond the margins of normal, to conquer any terrain on Earth.”

Turpin wants the new campaign to appeal to old-school Discovery drivers as well as to soccer moms who want to know that their SUV is more than a glorified grocery wagon.

The campaign focuses on the odds that ordinary people will encounter disaster conditions, Turpin said. One voiceover in the flood spots says, “The odds of your neighborhood getting more rain than the Amazon: 270 to 1. The LR3. Created for the one.” Another narration: “The odds a billion gallons of water will run through your neighborhood: 25 to 1.”

Turpin said the “Created for the one” theme would be used in upcoming spots. “When it snows big time, we’ll go out and do that. And when hurricane season starts, we’ll go there,” he said.

To ensure that the brand isn’t seen as exploiting disaster, Land Rover will offer the use of its vehicles to emergency personnel or, alternatively, make donations to relief organizations as it did in Missouri. Turpin said Land Rover is working on alliances with first responders and with the SPCA to rescue pets stranded in floods.

“This adds emotional value to the LR3’s purpose-built design character,” said Rick Eiserman, North American managing partner, Y&R, Irvine, Calif. “Building off the halo of major news stories, [the productions] will lead to community and humanitarian support, increasing LR3’s relevance on a brand, social and community level.”

Eiserman said spots featuring the dramatic footage would be bolstered with online efforts and community postings so that consumers can contribute their own stories.

After a 10 percent decrease in first-quarter sales, Land Rover’s sales were off 2 percent through May 2007, to 18,600 units, per Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif.