Magazine article Marketing

MG Motor

Magazine article Marketing

MG Motor

Article excerpt

The classic British car marque's Chinese owners are keen to revive the brand, writes Alex Brownsell.

It is remarkable that classic sports car marque MG continues even to exist. The brand, which can trace its roots back to the 20s, has been passed from pillar to post over the decades - its former owners include the British Motor Corporation, British Leyland, Rover Group and BMW.

Despite a widespread assumption that MG was destined to become the latest in a line of British automotive brands to pass into the history books, in 2006 Chinese manufacturer Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC) detected sufficient life to buy the rights to the MG brand.

A 2007 merger between Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation and NAC provided the financial clout to relaunch production of MG Motor UK at the marque's plant at Longbridge, in Birmingham.

With sales and marketing director Guy Jones overseeing the recent launch of a fresh visual identity, and its Chinese owners outlining a five-year product strategy at last month's Shanghai Motor Show, there is a desire to revive the MG brand once and for all.

A TV ad campaign in support of its MG6 model will run later this year, with communications targeting consumers looking for an 'affordable, premium' vehicle. Ads will emphasise the 'Built in Britain' message.

How should the manufacturer try to win over car buyers who assumed MG was on the scrapheap? We spoke to Matthew Heath, chief strategy officer at M&C Saatchi Group/LIDA, which has handled the MG account, and Rob Lindley, vice-president and managing director at Harley-Davidson EMEA.

DIAGNOSIS - TWO EXPERTS ON HOW MG MOTOR CAN DRIVE SALES GROWTH

Matthew Heath, chief strategy officer, M&C Saatchi Group/LIDA

For a brand with such a cherished heritage, poor old MG has spent a long time in the workshop over the years.

With its reputation damaged from lowpoints such as the MG Metro, through to the ignominious end of MG Rover six years ago, the brand has been on a bumpy ride, leaving it tested more than the suspension on an MG Midget - and there have been numerous repair jobs.

Despite this, the MG marque still has a resonance for most of us aged 40-plus and is perhaps enough of a blank sheet of paper for the under-25s. Could we return to the heady days of 1975, when the millionth MG rolled off the Longbridge production line?

There is certainly room for something authentically sporty and more individual in Ford Focus land. The MG6 looks a lot of car for the money and could be the basis of a revival. It may be the last chance for an MG respray - but it may just come off.

Remedy

- Find and reconnect with MG advocates. …

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