CAMPAIGNS: A fetching new trick by Rover - Brand Awareness

Over the past three years, car manufacturer Rover has doubled its sales in Italy and become that country’s fastest growing car brand.

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

branded perfume.


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

the product.

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

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