Over the past three years, car manufacturer Rover has doubled its
sales in Italy and become that country’s fastest growing car brand.
Unlike in the UK, where the brand has a chequered past (British Leyland
and industrial action), to the Italians the Rover name is associated
with style. Giorgio Armani owns a Range Rover and both the Armani and
Versace fashion houses use Rovers as company cars.
In June last year, to strengthen the prestige of the brand, Rover Italia
managing director, Salvatore Pistola hit on the idea of launching a
To increase public awareness of Rover as a stylish brand in Italy. Also,
by using the launch to showcase its Italian subsidiary to UK
journalists, the company hoped to project a glamorous and successful
image to the British market.
Rover turned to Milanese company Promoparfe to create a scent for its
Italian customers, reflecting the Rover brand values of tradition and
The perfumier came up with Essenziale, a unisex eau de cologne.
Described as ’vital as musk, refined and eternal’, the fragrance was
packaged in bottles shaped like a Rover 600 radiator grille.
Rover decided to launch the product at its annual press conference and
dinner, on the eve of the Bologna Motor Show. On 2 December a select
band of the UK media flew from the Rover headquarters in Warwick to
Journalists from the BBC, the national newspapers, trade journals and
the Italian media were given a tour of the 90,000 sq ft Rover Village in
Rome. Here, they browsed in the village’s library, competed with
radio-controlled cars on a mini-racetrack and had a drink in the Rover
The following day guests were taken on a tour of the sights of Bologna,
before being taken to a private palazzo in the evening for the main
After a presentation by Pistola, Italian actress and Range Rover owner
Sophia Loren, unveiled the new fragrance.
In Italy, the presence of Sophia Loren at the launch generated huge
interest from the Italian broadcast media and national newspapers such
as La Stampa and Corriere della Sera. UK media coverage ranged from BBC
Business Breakfast and the Daily Telegraph to motor trade titles and the
Birmingham Evening Mail. Here, the launch was seen as something of a
novelty, but details of Rover’s impressive sales record in Italy, were
still reported across the board.
The perfume’s success in Italy can be judged by the fact that the first
batch of 2,000 bottles was snapped up in just two days. Undoubtedly this
was largely the result of Pistola securing the ultra chic Loren to front
However, it seems the company has a long haul before the product would
be acceptable to the UK market. The Times motoring editor, Kevin Eason
says that while the Italian media sees the perfume launch as perfectly
acceptable, he is not sure the necessary leap in Rover’s image can be
made in the UK.
Client: Rover Group
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: Launch of Rover fragrance ’Essenziale’
Timescale: June - December 1997
Cost: pounds 50,000