Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover is selling container loads of cars to Americans, Chinese and just about anybody outside cash-strapped Europe; defying the sceptics who thought that its purchase by the huge Indian conglomerate was a recipe for disaster.
It has managed to do this without very much in the way of stand-out advertising, but that’s pretty common in the car industry. Officially the US Jaguar account is with in-house agency Spark44, but most of the JLR business is parked at various WPP agencies: Y&R handles Land Rover, for example.
Now WPP agencies Brand Union and Digit have been appointed to handle design globally; the ‘brand guardian’ role that used to be so popular before the recession. It fell out of favour a bit as clients realised that it simply led to more third parties scrapping over something they didn’t actually own but JLR obviously thinks that, as it plans to start manufacturing in China and Brazil, it needs someone to keep an eye on things.
Which is all very nice for WPP as it now has two big global car companies – the giant Ford which resides in a number of bespoke agencies including Team Detroit, Blue Hive and Hudson Rouge (which handles Lincoln) – and go-go JLR.
Jaguar Land Rover used to be owned by Ford, of course. It was part of its Premier Automotive Group along with Volvo and Aston Martin until CEO Alan Mulally got rid of it. And was a WPP account in those days too. Say what you like about WPP, it’s nothing if not persistent.