Years ago I was a junior at BMP.
‘Suits’ had just begun to stop wearing suits.
Planners and account men began to dress in ‘smart-casual’.
Our managing director, David Batterbee, had long hair and a beard.
He also wore jeans, denim shirts and cowboy boots.
One day he took us to the car park to show us his new car.
It was something called a Range Rover.
It had just been launched and we’d never seen anything like it before.
It was a jeep on the outside but a car on the inside.
We couldn’t figure why anyone would want to buy something like that.
If you wanted a jeep you had Land Rover.
Tough, strong, versatile, go anywhere.
If you wanted a car you had hundreds to choose from.
Why would anyone pick something that wasn’t one thing or the other?
At the time it didn’t make any sense.
Years later of course, it’s obvious.
It was the automotive equivalent of what our managing director was wearing.
Nice clean, well-pressed denim and shiny, clean cowboy boots.
Not cowboy boots you could ride a horse with.
Not real cowboy boots.
Just the look of cowboy boots made for a more comfortable urban lifestyle.
The brilliance of Range Rover was in spotting the opportunity and capitalising on it.
The original Range Rover had just two doors and the interior was designed to be washed out with a hose.
It soon became obvious this wasn’t where the sales opportunity was.
The real sales opportunity was like those cowboy boots.
Looking as if you did rough, tough things, while driving around town and staying nice and clean.
Taking the Range Rover to the opera, the theatre, the school sports day, the office, shopping in Bond Street.
And gradually Range Rover moved the car in that direction.
Adding four doors, a leather interior, state-of-the-art stereo, heated seats, walnut dashboard, air-conditioning, electric sunroof, darkened windows.
The Range Rover became as luxurious as any limousine.
It became the car of choice for rap artists, royalty, visiting dignitaries, billionaires and film stars.
It was made in high-speed, turbo-charged versions.
It was made in sleek low profile versions to make it more attractive to women.
Victoria Beckham even designed a line, and the biggest-selling model is now called ‘The Vogue’.
Range Rover is a great example of the product following the market.
An example of the brand dictating the product.
Last year Range Rover sold a third of a million vehicles worldwide.
Sales were £13.5 billion, and profits £1.5 billion.
Range Rover is a triumph of intelligent marketing.
Everyone seems happy except the man who designed it, Spen King.
He said it was “never intended as a status symbol but later incarnations of my design seem to be intended for that purpose.”
But then Spen King was a designer, not a marketing person.