From the Clever to the Bizarre: Auto Brands Make the Darndest Things

We live in a world of brand extensions—espresso machines from Starbucks, cooking utensils from the Food Network. There’s little wonder why. Parallel products launched under a major brand name can generate both revenue and increased visibility. In recent years, luxury auto brands have gotten in on the act. “It’s a good way to give people a chance to buy into a little bit of the dream,” explains Martyn Tipping, principal of brand-extension firm Tipping Gardner. “You might not be able to buy a Tesla, but, hey, for $15 you can have Tesla golf balls.” Fair enough. Tipping is quick to point out, though, that some extensions are just “gimmicky,” and may do more harm than good. “If it doesn’t get buzz to do anything to reinforce the brand,” it may be an “extension too far,” he says. Here, some of the wares hawked by pricey auto brands and our take on them. 

1

Bentley

You could argue that the legendary British automaker is grooming the customers of tomorrow with this limited-edition Bentley Blower for tots ($5,500). Those with a bit less liquidity might like a backgammon set ($3,980) or a candle ($87)—which, by the way, smells like vanilla and patchouli, not petrol and axle grease. Tipping says this stuff is just “luxury for luxury’s sake.” If you’ve got four grand for a board game, you might as well just buy the Bentley.

2

Porsche

Quite apart from luxury cars, Porsche has made a respectable name for itself in the design world. This office chair ($4,698) promises “that sports car feeling,” even if you’re only speeding across your cubicle.

3

Rolls-Royce

This English picnic hamper (“a tie-in with this quaint idea of motoring,” Tipping says) is intended as a high-end accessory for your Rolls. And if you can afford the $37,995 it goes for, there’s a good chance you have a Wraith in the driveway already.

4

Lamborghini

When you mention Lamborghini, an espresso machine ($2,200) probably isn’t the first thing to pop into one’s head. “What they’re really selling is a luxurious Italian lifestyle,” says Tipping. But a T-shirt and blingy Beats headphones? Even at $82 and $181, respectively, they merely serve to cheapen the brand.

5

Jaguar

Sure, this Heritage Toy Bear ($40) comes with cool racing goggles, but it’s hard to see how stuffed animals whisper “luxury” to the would-be car buyer.

6

Tesla

Tipping points out that golf balls from Tesla ($65) can function like an NPR tote bag: “You could make a value statement on the golf course: I care about the environment.” The product had been discontinued as of press time, but there were plenty of Tesla T-shirts and iPad sleeves left.

7

Maserati

If you can’t quite swing the $70,600 for a basic 2016 Ghibli, Maserati has plenty of other ways to take the brand home, including these orange Town Shoes ($275), a Fuoriclasse watch ($351) and a laser-cut desk lamp ($1,704). How many of these goods reinforce the exclusivity of Maserati?

This story first appeared in the August 8, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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