Some years ago, one of the senior people at BMW revealed that they did not like getting journalists – who were mainly male – to test drive the base models of the MINI (which is made by the German brand).
The reasoning was that the only way to capture the attention of a male motoring hack was to give them the full-fat, fire-breathing turbo versions of the car, which are excellent performance machines. That way, the men would write – for other men – about the MINI and its street cred.
The company was trying to reverse what it saw as a worrying trend, that the MINI was regarded as something of a “chick’s car”. Women love the MINI and most who buy them don’t do so for the performance.
I know this from personal experience: my wife had an original Mini (spelled upper and lower case) and still loves the modern version. And it is totally irrelevant to her what is under the bonnet.
There’s a similar trend with one of the under-desirable fashion accessories du jour, the Range Rover Evoque. The car was the company’s first foray into fashion, perhaps after it realised its top-end cars were being bought for their pose value and not their offroad ability.
The Evoque is like nothing else out there and Range Rover South Africa is targeting young, upwardly mobile women. As with the MINI, these female buyers generally buy for the car’s style and the statement it makes about them.
Many are black and the statement they are making is: I am my own person. I earn. I pay my way. I don’t need a man to validate me. And I care about style and quality.
Interestingly, my colleague Thami has just spent a week in an Evoque. She is so the target market and says the car has a magnetic attraction. She knows it is equipped with all the latest safety and luxury bells and whistles but, frankly, she doesn’t care. It’s a head-turner and that’s what she wants in a car.
That idea is exactly what we see in the latest TV ad for the New Evoque.
A sexy, peroxided babe (sorry, not being sexist, just accurate) is having her hair done in a “barber shop”. New Evoque comes tootling down the street and she can’t help turning her head.
The way it is shot shows off the lines of the car and, even in video, the allure comes across clearly. And the punchline says: “New Range Rover Evoque. The power of distraction.” It’s perfect.
There’s a smile on her face and we know – here’s a customer.
The ad works because it simultaneously shows off the car and says to the watcher: Yes, this could be you. This is you. Nothing else. No detail about equipment, dynamics, fuel consumption or even price. That’s all pointless. But it does sell the car…
So, Orchid to Range Rover.
I feel a bit lousy about this Onion, which goes to someone who sounds like he’s just starting out in the public relations industry. But clearly, no one at Sabio Communications, the firm where Tevin du Toit works, has given him the proper training in how to deal with journalists.
The one thing that’s guaranteed to get any journalist’s back up – never mind a grumpy old git like me who’s dealing with the pressure of a newspaper deadline – is to phone and say: “I sent you a press release 15 minutes ago…”
Poor Tevin didn’t get much further than that before I chewed his ear off and put the phone down on him. Before you accuse me of rudeness, remember he (and his company and client, which was Wimpy) had barged in on my space.
That is another classic how not to do PR (101) lesson.
Here’s a tip: if you have put in the hard yards to build a relationship with me (and a few have) and to understand my work schedule, as well as my interests and those of my newspaper, I might listen.
Otherwise, trust in e-mail and that it will get to me. And check up in a few days. Not 15 minutes.
Wimpy is not the Office of the Presidency when it comes to newsworthiness. But clearly, no-one has told you this, Tevin.
Let’s hope this is your first and last Onion in the PR business.