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Snooty and loving it: Rolls-Royce PR savvy boosts numbers

By Jason Mudd

You could say snooty is the new strong, taking an example from the luxury car industry. And it’s OK to be snooty, if that’s what your audience resonates with and responds to.

Forbes recently named Rolls-Royce the king of luxury car sales for the past year, as it’s seen record-breaking numbers and been called stronger than ever. Sales are rocketing in part because of the moxie of Richard Carter, the driving force behind the brand’s communications. Carter shook up the year by dissing the L.A. Convention Center during the Los Angeles Auto Show, and instead hosted a VIP auto event at a mansion in nearby Beverly Hills.

Snooty. Smart. Strong.

Carter said the move was “much more Rolls-Royce” than the traditional auto show venue, and there’s a lot packed into that statement. Having stars and top executives mingle together at the spacious mansion lined up much more closely with what the buying audience is motivated by – and the lifestyle it likes to lead – than a gathering at a convention center. Top Rolls-Royce car models were on hand for test drives, and no one had to mill around in a traditional showroom.

CEO of Rolls-Royce Torsten Muller-Otvos put it in this snooty but factual way: All of its buyers are VIPs, and they experienced a much higher level of “comfort” in the mansion environment. Thus, the stage was set at this event for earned news coverage and promotion of even the highest-priced and more exotic models, such as the Phantom AviatorCoupe.

The concept was simple – yet clever – because Rolls-Royce had really listened to its buyers and had gotten to know them. It responded with a venue that fit perfectly with their interests and tastes. Plus, the “VIP” air of the event likely turned the heads of other VIPs who will want to get invited next year. This targeted crowd includes a younger age range of buyer, at a little over 40 years old.

Rolls-Royce knows that its buyers often purchase on impulse because they have the financial strength to do so. It also knows that buyers aren’t too interested in fuel economy, preferring instead the emotion and excitement of the car itself (which Rolls-Royce spokespersons have called “substance”).

There’s another concept at work here that may surprise you: empathy. We’ve approached the idea of empathy-based PR before, and it continues to gain impact as audiences expect to hear empathetic messages from brands they love. In many cases, empathy can equate to respect, in the audience’s perception, and this can carry weight for those high-dollar impulse buys as well as the everyday purchases of typical brands.

Rolls-Royce potential buyers didn’t have to stand in line at a drab convention center. Instead, they could hobnob at a Beverly Hills estate and take some test drives among celebrities. The convention center would have made them “uncomfortable,” and Rolls-Royce was empathetic toward that possibility. The company was rewarded with a larger audience base and some strong news coverage to boost its brand perception. It can use the hype created around this event for some time to further distinguish itself among its targeted crowd.

Whether your audience members are in the mansion crowd or are the convention center type, listening to who they are and what they want is critical for an effective PR strategy. Contact Axia Public Relations today and we’ll lend you our refined and experienced (but non-snooty) listening ear.

Mudd_Jason_Color_hi_res_forward_crop– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, It Works! Global, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Southern Comfort, Verizon and more. Connect with Jason at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.

Topics: public relations

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