Land Rover Launches Web TV Channel

LOS ANGELES Ford’s Land Rover has launched an Internet channel for branded entertainment content called Go Beyond TV, claiming to be the first automotive brand to use the Web in such fashion to support its marketing programs.

“The challenge is to bring the brand into the 21st century, using the Internet as a medium,” said Steve Hobbs, the editor of the broadband content. “It’s an ambitious project and a leap of faith.”

The Go Beyond TV initiative is led by Land Rover’s lead creative shop, WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam Brands, Irvine, Calif., and London, and includes the participation of Mediaedge:cia and MindShare.

Hobbs, a former editor of the British edition of GQ, said he wants the content to be “editorial, not marketing, to bring out the sense of adventure that is at the heart of the brand.”

Go Beyond TV seeks to foster an online “community” wherein spectators can start uploading their own adventures. He said that aspect of the Webcast would reinforce the Land Rover message that breaking personal boundaries gives one a sense of “personal achievement . . . it makes you relook at yourself.”

Online TV segments focus on “real people living lives less ordinary, with real-life adventures,” said Hobbs, “From exploring the edge of space to a really exciting hotel.”

In addition to shows from partners such as Discovery Channel and the BBC, the channel will run original content that “goes beyond mud-plugging. For example, we have a feature on Lance Armstong, on plans for a self-contained city above Tokyo Harbor, and on Virginia McKenna [the actress who starred in Born Free].

The content is available in English in the U.K and U.S. for now, Hobbs said. Initial viewers will be redirected from the site, which receives about 20 million hits per year, according to Hobbs. “Ultimately,” he said, “It will stand-alone.”

In late 2004, GM’s Chevrolet reached out to broadband customers via an online channel called “Chevy Live,” created by ad agency Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich. The channel, no longer active, carried Chevrolet-sponsored live events, such as the County Music Awards, as well as music videos and product information.

Last year, Audi launched its own TV channel on Europe’s Sky Digital system, but that was not a Web-based initiative.