They say there is no such thing as bad publicity and Rover
unquestionably became the highest-profile car manufacturer in the UK
when BMW decided to axe it.
The issue generated massive coverage - most of it positive. Sure, those
in the know could savage Rover about its failures, but British jobs were
being threatened by those nasty Germans and the tabloids loved it. One
small drawback was the chance the company might not survive to benefit
from the popular support.
That issue appeared to be settled in May, when Phoenix finally bought
the company for pounds 10. Prices had been slashed and deals promoted up
to that point in an attempt to push Rover back into profit. The new
owner promised an end to profligate spending on ’Hollywood-style’ ads
and, with BMW still owning the brand and licensing it to Phoenix, Rover
has begun the long slog into profit.
Agencies Rover uses Zenith for its planning and buying, M&C Saatchi for
the creative work.
Total spend and the media mix Rover spent around pounds 50.5 million in
the year to the end of May 2000. Of this spend, the majority went on TV
ads (pounds 29.4 million) and, more recently, on high-profile press
campaigns (14.3 million). Outdoor advertising outstripped both direct
mail and radio promotions, costing pounds 3.7 million. There was a
smattering of cinema spend.
Spend details Overall spend topped pounds 6 million in six months out of
the last 12. Particular peaks came in June, July and August 1999,
January, February and April 2000. Phoenix’s takeover resulted in Rover’s
advertising outlay only just nosing past the pounds 1 million mark in
May, the lowest figure for any of the last 12 months.
The press campaigns targeted Rover’s middle-England customer base,
appearing in the Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Sunday Times and The
The Mail on Sunday took the greatest share - pounds 1.2 million.
Regarding individual models, the high-profile Rover 75 took a huge slice
of advertising revenue - pounds 19 million across 12 months - with the
Rover 25 and 45 being heavily promoted in November 1999 and January 2000
Phoenix scaled down the activity in May and it is the brand-specific
advertising that appears to have been sacrificed in favour of promoting
the entire Rover range.
Conclusion Rover’s future is still far from secure. Despite the
investment by Phoenix - not least a considerable loan from BMW - there
are many pitfalls ahead.
With a restrained marketing policy, it is even more important that the
new Rover products deliver the goods. The 75 was not the success Rover
was hoping for, though it appears to have survived a lukewarm critical
reception. Even if the group links up with a larger manufacturer, the
new management team may set its sights a little lower than the executive
75 and go after a more traditional target - Mondeo Man. After all, why
should Ford get the free publicity?
Research by AC Nielsen MMS tel: 01344-627553 www.mediamonitoring.com.
CAMPMB # 24:07:00
OPINION: QUESTION TIME WITH ... Trevor Pryer - Times Newspapers’
client sales chief is a strategic expert
By COLIN GRIMSHAW
Trevor Pryer and his team of 15 account managers in Times
Newspapers’ client sales force represent the new face of media
The mucky business of bartering rates and space is not for them. No
sirree, the service they claim to offer is that of a consultancy - or
even a planning agency.
Pryer founded the client sales team two years ago. He first saw the
potential for ’integrated client solutions’ when Microsoft launched
Windows 95 in the UK by sponsoring The Times for a day, giving away
every copy free.
’Clients like Microsoft were looking to cut through the clutter and tap
into the trust and loyalty of our readership. Also, media agencies were
coming under increasing pressure to find new solutions and were having
to reorganise themselves,’ recalls Pryer.
’This led to the creation of strategic planning departments and
specialists such as Unity and Michaelides & Bednash.’
Pryer adds that agencies also consolidated and, with fewer buying
points, became more efficient and had more time to devote to business
Media owners could spend more time forging relationships with planning
departments and clients.
According to Pryer, another driver in the desire for creative media
solutions was the spending boom of the late 90s, which fuelled ever
expanding marketing budgets.
Out of all this came ideas for new revenue streams. These ranged from
sponsorship of supplements, partworks and even integral newspaper
And the national press has not been slow to grasp the opportunity.
As well as The Times and The Sunday Times, Pryer’s team is able to offer
clients access to the whole News International portfolio, including The
Sun, Sky TV and various online opportunities.
TV and press recently joined together to broker Land Rover’s sponsorship
of Sky’s Wild Spirits sports series and an accompanying Times
Pryer says new skills are being learned with every cross-media deal.
However, the idea of spending a few months with his colleagues at Sky,
immersing himself in the world of television sales, is not one that
’From what I’ve seen of them, no thank you,’ says Pryer in mock horror.
’I couldn’t compete with Graham Appleby’s (head of client sales at Sky)
In any case, he does not envisage News International setting up a
cross-media sales team like Emap’s. ’There will be print and internet
cross-selling opportunities for us. But Emap has niche markets whereas
News International is selling the mass market,’ he explains.
Like many people, Pryer admits he fell into media sales. After
completing a degree in politics and international studies at Southampton
University, he went backpacking around the Greek islands. He returned to
the UK to earn more money for travelling. The ’temporary’ job Pryer took
at Argus Specialist Publications lasted for three years before he moved
to The Sun. He says his subsequent switch to The Times, five years
later, was not the culture shock one might imagine.
’The Times is less about numbers than The Sun and is more of an
environmental sell. Otherwise, the disciplines needed are the same.’
But it was a career in agencies, not sales, that first attracted Pryer
to media. Having now moved into a more strategic role in client sales,
perhaps a move to agencies would be a logical next step?
He scoffs at the suggestion. ’Some years ago I turned down a media
buyer’s job at Dorlands. But I don’t regret it. The money wasn’t enough
- I might have ended up sleeping rough.’