Why Jamie Oliver partnered with Jaguar Land Rover to make a car with a kitchen built into it

It's like something from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but Jamie Oliver's "kitchen car" is about genuinely pushing boundaries, the business's commercial boss told Campaign.

A trio of five-minute videos launched in the last two weeks on the celebrity chef and Land Rover’s digital channels feature Oliver meeting the JLR team to explain the kind of vehicle he wants, the car arriving at his house, and then Oliver using it to prepare a meal.

The adapted Land Rover Discovery’s features range from the somewhat practical – a toaster in between the front seats – to the truly fanciful, such as a butter churner in one of the hubcaps. It also includes a rotisserie, slow cooker and built-in oil and vinegar dispensers.

Lisa Tookey, chief revenue officer and head of commercial partnerships at Jamie Oliver Ltd, told Campaign that there was a "massive list" of other gizmos suggested that didn’t make the final machine – including a meat tenderiser, which she said "had something to do with the suspension going up and down".

"Jamie is probably the most creative person I’ve ever met," she said. "He has a constant  pipeline of brilliant ideas. Some of them are bonkers. If you let him run wild, this is what the outcome is."

While most of the features of the car are clearly unlikely to go into production, the toaster had had such a positive reception that JLR was looking at whether it could be offered as an optional extra to anyone buying a Discovery, Tookey said.

From the carmaker’s perspective, she said, the campaign was a way to demonstrate what its special vehicle operations division did to a mass audience. "It allowed them to say, ‘We can do so many more things than you expect’," she explained.

Tookey described the partners as "pleasantly surprised" by the organic reach of the campaign, which has achieved 2.5 million views across all channels – and they have also achieved a watch-through rate of 75%, "which is super high for branded content, or in fact any content."

The partnership happened because of a natural affinity, she said – Oliver has always driven Land Rover cars, which resulted in Tookey knocking heads together with JLR to ask, "what could we do that would be incredibly groundbreaking, break out of the usual mould?"

"So we got our creative team in the room with us and came up with a whole bunch of really mad ideas," she explained. "Jamie was incredibly excited because it was stretching the boundaries of what we would do, and also was working with a quintessentially British brand."

Oliver, Tookey said, is inundated with requests from brands wanting to work with him. "It’s constant, but 95 enquiries out of 100 won’t necessarily be suitable for a partnership.

"What we try to do is find like-minded brands that have a connection with Jamie, but it’s not necessarily always the case – we turn away lots of business with brands that we don’t feel are aligned with our mission and vision, or they don’t see it as a partnership."

The business is especially keen to work with innovative tech players, she said – especially given the extent of technology emerging related to the connected kitchen. "That is coming at us really fast, and we want to make sure we are constantly ahead of the curve."

They are not thinking small: "If we could create a virtual Jamie, that would be great – that would really alleviate a lot of time in his diary."

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