Magazine article Marketing

Brand Health Check: Jaguar

Magazine article Marketing

Brand Health Check: Jaguar

Article excerpt

Ford's luxury marque is struggling badly. While its rivals' sales have risen by up to 10%, its own fortunes have slumped. So how can Jaguar reverse its losses? Ben Bold investigates.

Iconic car marque Jaguar, one of the most quintessentially English brands, is facing one of the toughest periods in its history, after it emerged earlier this month that a slump in sales in the premium car market has forced parent Ford to shut its manufacturing operations in Coventry.

Jaguar only sold 122,000 cars across worldwide last year, while rivals Mercedes and BMW sold 1m each. Moreover, Jaguar's UK sales fell 1.7% from the previous year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

That contrasts starkly with BMW's sales increase, up nearly 10% over the same period, with Audi up by nearly 8%.

Ironically, just last month Jaguar announced it is spending pounds 7m on sponsoring Coventry's pounds 113m state-of-the-art sports and events venue (Marketing, 4 August). Buying the naming rights to The Coventry Arena was designed to reflect the car brand's historical associations with the area, but when it opens next August, the Jaguar Arena will rather be a reminder of the number of workers the company laid off in the city - the so-called 'home of Jaguar'.

Ford also announced it was withdrawing its Jaguar team from Formula One at the end of the season, the result of a failure to score points and cost-cutting measures.

Jaguar's critics say poor marketing is the cause of its ailing market share. Tony Woodley of the Transport & General Workers Union laid the blame at Ford's door, for failing to promote the brand effectively. 'Browns Lane is a productive plant,' he said. 'The failure is Jaguar's for not marketing and selling the cars properly.'

Is it too late for Ford to revive Jaguar's fortunes? We asked John Sanders, a Mercedes director at ad agency McCann-Erickson and previously MG Rover's marketing director, and self-confessed 'petrolhead' Carole Lowe, planning director at agency Archibald Ingall Stretton, which handles integrated work for BMW.

DIAGNOSIS 1 - JOHN SANDERS, DIRECTOR, MCCANN-ERICKSON

Jaguar is a brand that inspires a huge amount of goodwill, and you can't knock that heritage. As part of Ford's Premium Automotive Group it should be logical what to do with it. You have Aston Martin at the top, then Jaguar, a slightly more affordable prestige car that should be competing with the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Audi. Yet it falls short of being an aspirational brand.

In terms of product, it didn't have diesel or estate models at launch for the X-type and S-type, which limited sales and reduced the impact of marketing activity. …

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