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Super Bowl

Jaguar to Take Villainous Approach to Super Bowl Ad Debut

Oscar-Winner Tom Hooper to Direct Spot

By Published on . 4

Luxury carmaker Jaguar will position itself as the British Bad Boy shaking up American car competitors in its first Super Bowl TV spot.

Jaguar plans to announce today that it will air a 30-second spot promoting its new F-Type Coupe performance car during the third quarter of Fox's telecast of Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2. The press conference was to be held at -- where else? -- the London NYC hotel in midtown Manhattan.

Jaguar's first Super Bowl commercial will star well-known British actors, said Jeff Curry, brand VP, who declined to name names in an interview. But Mr. Curry did say that Tom Hooper, the Brit who won the Best Director Oscar for "The King's Speech" at the 2011 Academy Awards, is directing the spot created by in-house ad agency Spark 44.

The Super Bowl spot will be part of a months-long ad campaign promoting the coming of the F-Type Coupe to Jaguar's U.S. showrooms in April 2014.

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The campaign kicks off Sunday with a 30-second teaser from Spark 44 called "Disruption." It will air on NFL games and BBC America's telecast of the Jaguar title-sponsored Britannia Awards.

The spot for the Jaguar XFR starts with the usual auto ad blather about things like "adaptive dynamics technology" -- before a partially hidden James Bond-type villain with an English accent takes over the screen.

"Have you ever noticed how in Hollywood, the best villains are played by Brits?" he asks. Meanwhile, viewers see quick, almost subliminal cuts of a football and the Union Jack.

The spot closes with a hashtag, #GoodToBeBad that will drive an extensive social media campaign from Spark 44 and MindShare over coming months.

Brainy villains
Set against the backdrop of chic, modern London, the actual Super Bowl spot will be themed around brainy, sexy "British villains," said Mr. Curry. Jaguar has been using British actor Benedict Cumberbatch for voiceovers. Mr. Cumberbatch was the villain of the recent "Star Trek: Into Darkness."

"One way you can go with Super Bowl commercials is you can have kind of a cheap laugh. That's not what we're about; that's not what we're doing," said Mr. Curry about the spot, which is about to go into production. "Creatively we're going to offer something a little more sophisticated, a little more smart. But something that also has that wink and nod -- with that witty British tone."

Jaguar spent less than $40 million on U.S. media spending in 2012, according to Kantar Media. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the $968 million spent by General Motors' Chevrolet, which is buying multiple spots in the Super Bowl.

So why make an expensive Super Bowl ad buy when Jaguar's message could get lost in a blizzard of car ads?

"It's a fair question. It's one we heavily debated as here as well," answered Mr. Curry.

But Jaguar had several reasons, he said. First, sales are up 36% in 2013. That's the best for any car brand, not just luxury brands. Second, it was time for Jaguar to show off its new models to a wider audience. Third, as a challenger brand, Jaguar felt it was time to "disrupt" the automotive universe on the biggest ad showcase of all.

"We are the little guy. We're a bit of the underdog in this. We have that kind of spirit in how we operate as a company," said Mr. Curry. The Super Bowl also ties in with the company's hiring of San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick as "brand ambassador" this year.

Role models
What better way to make Jaguar stand out it than by linking the venerable British auto brand to the stylish, ingenious British bad guys and gals defining Hollywood, asked Bruce Dundore, North American creative director of Spark 44.

To inspire his creative team, Mr. Dundore even put together a reel of some of the best Brit villains, from Mr. Cumberbatch in "Star Trek" to Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs" and Ben Kingsley in "Sexy Beast."

His ultimate goal: Persuade luxury car buyers who just bought a Porsche to cancel their order and buy the F-Type Coupe instead.

Said Mr. Dundore: "This is going to be a bad boy. That's a very roguish statement. But it's a wonderful, romantic place to be."

Jaguar's heritage is British. But it's actually owned by Tata of India, which bought Jaguar Land Rover from Ford for $2.3 billion in 2008. After a few years of struggling under its new owner, Jaguar jumped back into the debate over who markets the world's best sports car with the launch of its new 2014 F-Type convertible earlier this year.

The loud, powerful roadster filled a gaping hole in Jaguar's model lineup that had existed since the company phased out the iconic E-Type two-seater favored by movie stars and rock and rollers in the 1960s. F-Type has generated the kind of publicity that ad money can't buy.

"A sports car better than Porsche?" asked The Wall Street Journal in a glowing review. "The refined yet thrilling new ride may just be the best way to spend $100,000 on a sports car today."

The F-Type has helped put a halo over the entire Jaguar brand and brought new customers into showrooms.

During the first 10 months of 2013, Jaguar's sales rose 36.2%, according to Automotive News Data Center. That makes Jaguar the fastest-growing car brand this year, ahead of Maserati (29%), Subaru (28%), GM's Cadillac (26%) and Porsche (24%).

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