Jaguar enlists Spike Lee to help diversify market

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With the help of filmmaker Spike Lee, Jaguar wants to break from its old-money mold and attract African-American and Hispanic buyers. Mr. Lee will produce advertising for Jaguar as it tries to meet ambitious sales goals.

"We are attempting to basically double our [U.S. and worldwide] volume with the S-Type and, with the X400 next year, to double it again," said Mike O'Driscoll, exec VP, Jaguar Cars North America.

"To do that, we need to appeal to a broader, younger and more diverse audience-something we have not had to do in the past," Mr. O'Driscoll said at last week's New York auto show.

Jaguar reported record U.S. sales of 35,039 cars in 1999. Its recent low point came in '92, with sales of 8,681 cars. Jaguar plans to launch its X400 model, which is aimed at the BMW 3 series, and the Mercedes C class in mid-2001.

"We're making a dent in Mercedes-Benz," Mr. Lee said.

In his first project for Jaguar, Mr. Lee and his company, 40 Acres & a Mule Filmworks, produced an 8-minute movielike commercial internally called "The Harlem to Martha's Vineyard Special." A 4-minute version can be seen on Jaguar's Web site at Visitors can get the long version on videotape mailed to them free by registering at the site.

Mr. Lee also produced 30- and 60-second TV spots that will appear nationally in the next five to seven weeks.

The movie-commercial stars Mr. Lee's wife, Tanya Lee, and features the couple's house on Martha's Vineyard.


The short film shows a wealthy black female surgeon at Harlem Hospital in New York. Her husband is a sculptor. She makes lots of money and he does not. After a busy day of operating, the wife calls the husband and tells him to pick her up at the hospital. She tells the camera how great it is to be married to a man who does not feel threatened by her success.

"I'm not only his wife, I'm his patron," she says in the commercial. "Who knows? Maybe one day he'll actually sell one of those sculptures." The characters joke about her letting him drive the Jaguar.

Simon Sproule, VP-public affairs for Jaguar Cars North America, said the campaign will include print buys in magazines such as African Americans on Wheels, Black Enterprise and Essence. Mr. O'Driscoll said the company also is considering placements in metropolitan newspapers.

Though the two Jaguar executives would not say how much money the company will spend on the campaign, Mr. Sproule did say it will be 10% to 20% of the company's ad budget for North America. Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, remains Jaguar's ad agency of record, but Mr. Lee has a "long-term" contract, he said.

Mr. O'Driscoll, who becomes president of Jaguar May 1, said that by next year he expects minority dealers to account for 10% of U.S. sales. Minority buyers now account for 5% to 10% of U.S. sales, he said.

Ms. Cantwell and Mr. Henry are reporters at Automotive News.

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