Posted on July 11, 2017 at 13:42 PM
Two weeks ago, was the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
It’s an event which now attracts hundreds of thousands of motoring enthusiasts over four days. It’s effectively replaced the old NEC British Motor Show. It’s no longer just supercars and racing cars. You can now test drive a new cross-over or electric family saloon on the same 1.86km hill-climb brutalised by Nick Heidfeld’s McLaren in a gnat’s sneeze over 41 seconds.
When it started, in the early 1990s, the FoS attracted a fanciful 25,000.
I was one.
A young petrol-head born and raised within a dozen miles of the Goodwood Estate, I was working for an advertising group, on the account of a well-known car brand. So, I had both a personal and professional interest in attending this fledgling event.
And I was thrilled by it.
My then heroes – Mansell, Hill, Surtees, Schumacher and their peers – walked relatively unmolested between the paddock and their various drives. My younger brother (now an internationally renowned journalist, and member of the FoS commentary team) had recently passed his driving test. He, the old man, our uncle and I were in heaven. Our passion was played out before us in a kind of genteel V12 garden party atmosphere. No scones. No jam. Just cars capable of 190mph, and then some.
When I went back to the office on the following Monday, I telephoned my client.
“You have to be there, next year,” I said. And laid out my enthusiastic and unbudgeted ideas.
Prime among these, was the creation of an exciting product display and suite of give-aways – posters mainly (all of this was pre-digital age, don’t forget) and branded-merchandise.
But the client wasn’t so keen.
The problem with events for enthusiasts, they rightly pointed out, was that so few of the attendees had the actual budget to buy their cars. And the problem with posters was they adorned the walls, not of paying customers, but of schoolkids and dreamers. Baseball caps were worn by brand admirers not product owners.
On the face of it, this was a compelling argument and one which I was a little too naïve to disagree with.
Now, I know different.
Now I know what it takes to build a desirable brand. And over how long.
Now I know that investing in the aspirations of future customers is an essential ingredient in the premium marketing mix. Especially if the brand wants to gain new entrants or, heaven forbid, should introduce (whisper it) a ‘more affordable’ model.
You see, in a demand-led economy, it’s easy to imagine that all decisions are as instantaneous as our choice of toothpaste.
They’re not. At least, not for everyone.
For many, the desire to own a premium or luxury brand is formed long before we have the wherewithal to finance said purchase.
The mid-life crisis brand of choice was probably on the walls of the teenage bedroom. Only it is now, finally, attainable. The fulfilment of an ambition. A prize, not just a product.
My watch of choice is worn by Bond – forgive me, I’m still a fanboy at heart.
Building desirability can never start too early. Can never not be worthwhile.
And I know that’s tough.
For Marketing Managers and Directors under budget pressure, measurement is king. Lead generation is paramount. Some guarantee of return investment is essential.
But perhaps it’s better to accept a simple desire to own your brand is the best measure there is. You wouldn’t judge a lifelong relationship on the quality of the first kiss, after all.
Today, or rather two weeks back, the brand I recommended to attend 24 years ago, were present in quality and quantity at the latest Festival of Speed.
Proving, once again, that marketing consultants are like stopped clocks. Right, eventually.