Seek innovation – even from Poshest of places

Ruth Mortimer

Tabloid favourite Victoria Beckham may seem like a strange choice for creative director of car brand Range Rover. But this week, the fashion designer and former popstar unveiled her first luxury car design for the brand’s Evoque model.

The car is apparently “hand-finished”, whatever that means, with a hand-sewn leather wallet for the user’s manual and a matching four-piece luggage set. I’d never considered matching my suitcases with my car before, but apparently this is a concern for the Range Rover Evoque customer.

Some may be cynical about Beckham’s involvement, but car specialists say that innovation in the luxury auto market through fashion and design is the way to go. As former Ford marketer Ash Gupta says in our story online/ “These limited editions really work for positioning emerging product from a well-known stable. When we launched the original Ford Fiesta in Spain, we created a ‘Loewe’ leather interior. We could have sold a shedload of these. The Victoria Beckham car will do the same.”

Car specialists say innovations through fashion and design, like Victoria Beckham’s for Range Rover, are the way to go

Range Rover is not the only brand trying to do something different from the norm; the culture of innovation is everywhere. In response to the dire economic predictions for this year, many brands are choosing to take risks and do something different rather than fall behind and suffer when the markets pick up.

There are numerous examples just from the past week: Coca-Cola is to use innovative measurement to gauge the social impact of its global sponsorship activities; Barclaycard has created a ‘PayTag’ sticker that attaches to the back of a mobile phone for use as a contactless payment device; and for electronics brand Philips, an innovative approach to marketing has paid off. The company has seen a dramatic 80% profit rise this quarter after investing 7% of its turnover in research and development and communicating the emotional appeal of its products. Rather than focus on rational messages about product specifications, it has moved to explaining the benefits of using its goods.

Innovation is also on our minds this week at Marketing Week. Columnist Mark Ritson bemoans the lack of innovation and originality among Australian brands. And you can see the case studies of the brands that our Marketing Week Engage Awards judges have selected for the prestigious Brand Innovator award, in association with Reckitt Benckiser (RB). You can see who wins on the night of 22 May at the awards night itself, so make sure you are in the room.

It’s tempting when times are tough to cut investment and cull any plans for innovations. But those organisations that are willing to spend the time, energy and money transforming their operations – be it products, marketing or measurement – are seeing results. And when it does pay off, we can all be like Victoria Beckham and worry about whether our suitcases match our car’s interior.

Ruth Mortimer, editor

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