Perspective: Rover’s turnaround puts the spotlight on to corporate politics

Steve Miller, the Rover brand communications director responsible for the new Rover 25 and 45 models, is obviously a great wit.

Steve Miller, the Rover brand communications director responsible

for the new Rover 25 and 45 models, is obviously a great wit.

On Tuesday, in a WCRS press release about the global launch campaign for

Rover’s 25 and 45 models outside the UK, he raved: ’This new campaign

has been the best advertising launch in the history of Rover. Thirty-six

markets will be running the WCRS campaign ... we have never had such

worldwide acceptance for a UK-sourced campaign before. We are clearly

delighted with the outcome.’

In a testosterone-fuelled advertising category, where satisfying the

conflicting needs of the agency, the client and the client’s various

factions is notoriously difficult, such praise is rare.

On Wednesday, Rover was on the phone to the WCRS chairman, Robin


’We’re moving the 25 and 45 models to M&C Saatchi without a pitch,’ it


Campaign has many faults, but failing to spot an extraordinary volte

face is not normally one of them. But how to explain it? We can’t

conclude that Rover didn’t know the nature of the beast it hired last

autumn because its parent company, BMW, has ample experience of Robin

Wight and his fellow car virtuosos at WCRS thanks to their work for BMW

and Land Rover. The further irony is that the WCRS work is going to

serve as a template for the global approach introduced by Miller and his

boss, John Parkinson.

The only conclusion we can possibly draw is that having most of its

advertising eggs in one basket dawned slowly on Rover’s corporate

decision-makers as a bad idea.

If the desire is to present a more homogeneous picture of Rover, then it

makes sense to place its international assignment with the pounds 40

million domestic one which M&C Saatchi won in a competitive pitch late

last year. WCRS could do worse than curse corporate politics while

consoling itself with the BMW and Land Rover accounts.

The real point, though, is that advertising alone will not turn the

trick for Rover, where new registrations fell 26 per cent last year

leading to massive losses and redundancies. That said - does the quality

of M&C’s initial work for Rover stand up to WCRS’s global offering?

Well, as I watch that Rover 45 hurtling around a pinball machine

intercut with close-ups of mysterious people doing who-knows-what, I’m

forced to innocently remind readers that M&C has chosen as its

soundtrack a Fat Boy Slim number which samples The Who’s I Can’t

Explain. WCRS’s global offering for the 45, meanwhile, has a stronger

branding idea and works as a better showcase for the car.

The conclusion can only be that while M&C Saatchi has proved itself once

again as the agency to beat in new-business terms, it now has to

translate the Rover win into more original advertising.


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