Simon Warr is board director for comms and public affairs at Jaguar Land Rover. Based in the UK, Warr spent last week at the Geneva Auto Show, where he unveiled a new campaign to crowdsource the design for a relaunch of the iconic Land Rover Defender marque.
Tell us about the new campaign
What we've done is get some journalists in to work with our designers. We're doing it with a dozen or so leading publications from around the world including the New York Times, The Sun and Autocar. Each of them is helping to feed in on what a future Land Rover Defender should be. The intent is we then roll that forward, and start engaging directly with customers. There are three million people talking on the internet about Land Rover. We need to redefine the product and we want to use those three million people to help us do that.
Why opt for this approach?
A concept car typically costs a quarter of a million pounds. We haven't had to do that here. This is a PR exercise, a market research exercise, and a design and product development exercise. And it's all PR-led. We've seeded it really small but eventually we'll go to the outside world. So there is a crowdsourcing element to it. It's an international scientific collaboration to really get us closer to the outside world.
You were at Geneva last week. Is positivity returning to the automotive world?
It felt more positive than last year. More new products. It was also very green. There was a point we were getting to where motor shows were starting to be questioned because they are very expensive. I think web 2.0 has almost started to give them a reason again – most journalists and bloggers will report that their site traffic increases significantly around the motor show.
Which is your favourite motor show?
Actually, Geneva probably. It's not dominated by any one nationality. That neutrality of Switzerland flows through. It has a buzzy atmosphere. The other one that's up there for me is either Beijing or Shanghai. Those are very exciting because they still have such a bewildering array of products you have just never seen before.
Which was the biggest story at Geneva this year?
Apart from ours? Ferrari got an awful lot of attention with a future hybrid. It was a green car, so they painted it green which, obviously for Ferrari, is a very unusual colour. They got the front cover of the FT.