CLOSE-UP: Client of the Week - Vauxhall creates a new unity. Andy Jones wants to build up the marque as a whole, Francesca Newland writes

Andy Jones is not the middle-aged mustachioed marketing director you might expect to find at the helm of one of the country’s largest advertising budgets. But then Vauxhall’s new marketing and advertising strategy is not exactly traditional.

Andy Jones is not the middle-aged mustachioed marketing director

you might expect to find at the helm of one of the country’s largest

advertising budgets. But then Vauxhall’s new marketing and advertising

strategy is not exactly traditional.



Jones, 38, has been with General Motors all his working life. He

breathes enthusiasm for Vauxhall and is visibly charged by the logic

behind the company’s latest ad strategy - an umbrella campaign starring

Griff Rhys-Jones - and by last week’s restructure of marketing

operations.



The campaign and the restructure complement each other. Instead of

advertising individual car brands with different campaigns, all of the

Vauxhall marque’s product launches will be communicated using the Rhys-

Jones concept as a skeleton creative idea.



The company restructure is also about a unified message. It is

centralising its sales, marketing and customer care divisions and is

pushing the ’raising the standard’ strapline as a company mantra.



Jones says: ’Internally, we have used the sentence ’one team’. It is

about building a stronger awareness of what the different parts of the

business can do to serve the marque as a whole.’



The new advertising strategy took 18 months to develop. At Lowe Lintas &

Partners it was driven by the deputy chairman, John Lowery.



Jones explains: ’It took 18 months to decide what we want Vauxhall to

be. There is always a latent snobbism that you want to be premium. But

our roots are not premium. We looked at Tesco’s evolution over 20 years

and it filled me with horror that it might take that long.’ Jones

estimates that it might take two years for the Vauxhall strategy to kick

in.



Jones says he looked at the end-of-millennium round-up pieces in various

trade journals and felt something was wrong because Vauxhall, despite

its massive spend (more than pounds 84 million last year alone), was not

included anywhere.



He sees many benefits to the umbrella strategy. The first one he

mentions, not surprisingly, is cost. He says: ’When I joined we were the

Cavalier Car Company. But with more and more brands it is unsustainable.

There is cost pressure on the whole industry, added to by consumer

concerns on pricing.’



Jones, who Paul Hammersley, Lowes’ chief executive, dubs an ’instinctive

marketer’, feels that it would have been dangerous to cut spend by

focusing on mainstream volume as the niche brands net different kinds of

customers.



Hammersley adds: ’He’s forward-thinking about consumer marketing in

general and in the automotive category in particular.’



The other predicted benefit of the umbrella campaign has to do with

consumer psychology. Jones says: ’We have failed to capture things by

being brand-focused. People don’t just go out to buy an Astra estate,

they want an estate. So now we do ads about estates.’



Jones has a habit of listening to what you say and then incorporating a

relevant, if somewhat corny, pun in his response. It could be regarded

as a gift, it also represents the kind of quick-witted and

unconventional intelligence that underpins the new Vauxhall advertising

strategy.



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