Troubled Rover unveils ad offensive

Struggling British car manufacturer MG Rover is launching a back-to-basics advertising campaign as it awaits news on the takeover deal that could make or break the company.

The campaign, which is the first work from agency St Luke’s since it won Rover’s £21m advertising account (MW January 6), marks a return to Rover’s focus on product quality and design heritage.

The press and radio slots, which break on Friday, feature Rover’s new “Leather as Standard” proposition, whereby all Rover 25 and 45 models come with leather upholstery as part of the standard package.

The campaign launches as the future of the company hangs in the balance. China’s government is close to deciding whether the country’s largest vehicle producer, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), should take over Britain’s last remaining major car manufacturer.

Rover does not have the money to replace its ageing range of cars and SAIC wants access to Western technology and European markets. If the deal were to take place, the Chinese company would inject at least £1bn into Rover, but a takeover is far from certain.

Rover chairman John Towers, part of the Phoenix Four group of businessmen that bought Rover from BMW in 2000, said in November that a deal was imminent, but SAIC dismissed the comment as “premature”.

It has been reported that the British Government is set to intervene to save the deal and no one is in doubt about its importance. Towers said recently: “The future of the company rests on this deal. It is absolutely critical.”

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Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at marketoonist.com or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here

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