See Jaguar's 12-Minute Film Starring 'Homeland' Actor Damian Lewis

Automaker Using Slick Short Movie to Market the $100,000 F-Type Sports Car

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Jaguar has premiered the full 12-and-a-half minutes of "Desire," the film starring "Homeland" actor Damian Lewis that the automaker began promoting last fall ahead of the launch of its first new sports car in 50 years.

As we reported in November, when teasers were released, the film was created by The Brooklyn Brothers in London and RSA Films, and was shot in Chile's Atacama desert. Singer Lana Del Rey has also released a specially commissioned song, "Burning Desire," to go with the film.

In it, we see Mr. Lewis coming between a dangerous criminal and his wife as he delivers a new F-Type Jaguar in the middle of a desert. The film plays up Mr. Lewis' upper class British heritage, comparing him to Prince Harry and casting him as a smooth operator with a dry sense of humor.

From the start, the project has reminded adland of BMW's landmark 2001 film by Fallon which starred another British actor, Clive Owen. Both films were produced by RSA Films, whose London MD, Kai Hsiung, said, "The BMW film was a benchmark in branded content, but the internet wasn't fast enough then and we had to keep sending out DVDs – it worked better in the cinema."

But George Bryant, founding partner of Brooklyn Brothers London, denied the similarities and said it's "not BMW all over again."

"This is drama and narrative -- we were all on board to make something different," he said, adding: "Over the last six months we wanted to invite people into the story and to let Jaguar act like a modern brand."

One point of difference is that the Jaguar film, in contrast to Fallon's BMW film, has been heavily using web channels not just to market the film upon completion, but since filming began. There was no suggestion of a "closed set," with media invited along to watch and fragments of the film released to the public early. Mr. Bryant claimed that Jaguar has already benefited from $9 million in unpaid media thanks to the buzz that the film had created even before its launch.

Asked about the demographic the luxury carmaker is trying to reach with the F-Type, Mr. Bryant said: "It's aimed at achievers with a creative gene, who we call 'enlightened entrepreneurs' -- people who are into culture and film and are looking for a premium brand with soul. This audience is quick to see through marketing tricks, so we wanted to do something with inherent quality and we wanted to squeeze the unexpected out of it."

The Brooklyn Brothers won the Jaguar F-Type launch in June of last year and went to RSA with the idea of a red car, a desert and the theme of desire. The two companies collaborated throughout the production process, together creating the script and casting the film. It was directed by Adam Smith, who is best known for his drama work, including Doctor Who, as well as music videos for Chemical Brothers and the "My Time is Now" commercial for Nike.

Apparently, it didn't take much to persuade the hero, Mr. Lewis, to take part in the project. "Like Jaguar, Damian is a British style icon with global appeal," said Mr. Bryant. "He's a car fanatic, and he wanted to get back to his British roots and to show a different side to him than his Homeland character. He wanted to do as much driving and as many stunts as possible."

Thanks to Jaguar's sponsorhip, "Desire" is opening the Sundance London festival, and Jaguar is also hosting screenings for media at the W Hotel in London, as well as using social media and PR to promote the film. A TV and print campaign will support the launch of the F-Type, using ads that share the themes of desert and desire, but with completely separate content from the short film.

Jaguar, which is owned by Indian company Tata, counts the U.S., the U.K., Germany and mainland Europe, and Asia as its biggest markets. The F-Type, which costs around $100,000, was designed by British-born Ian Callum, who is known as the Jonathan Ives of car design.

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