I have a friend who works freelance in the film industry. This, it seems, can mean corporate videos one month and Hollywood films the next. From the outside, it’s a business that seems remarkably flakey until the cheques are signed and then remarkably well organised. He showed me a ‘call sheet’ for an episode of Spooks which detailed a day’s shooting in such incredible detail that even the actors had exact timings for arriving in make-up.
Last Saturday I was telling my filming friend how hopelessly mediocre the average corporate automotive film tends to be. Limp tracking shots on a winding Spanish road may look polished, but they are usually flat and unexciting. It is obvious that the effort going into corporate films is far less than the time and money expended on design and advertising campaigns. But with visual media now reaching into every smartphone, film is probably now the most important medium.
So, right on cue, I wake up in Los Angeles ahead of the motor show to find Jaguar is ahead of the curve with a teaser for a proper mini-blockbuster film all about the Jaguar F-type. Called ‘Desire Teaser’, it has been put together by Ridley Scott Associates, stars "Emmy Award winner" Damian Lewis and has a soundtrack by Lana Del Ray, who has been signed up by Jaguar for wider F-type promotion.
From the clip on YouTube, it looks impressively slick and big-budget. But can it help to reboot Jaguar’s image, which is currently jammed in the US somewhere between the 1960s and Ohio country club chic? Jaguar is using the brand idea of a ‘Modern British Invasion’ – an update of the cultural ‘British Invasion’ of the US in the early 1960s, led by the Beatles and backed up, in the automotive sphere, by big sales of British sports cars.
Jaguar wants to recreate that early 1960s feeling of modernity and style and is betting heavily on the F-type changing the perceptions of potential buyers and, possibly more importantly, changing the perceptions of the young today, so they’re much more likely to buy a Jaguar tomorrow.
I can’t imagine what the budget for the film must have been. It might have been enough to pay for the development of another minor F-type derivative. But Jaguar’s marketing bosses may well be right when they figure that, in the YouTube future, an image-building film will be far more effective than a record-breaking Nürburgring run when it comes to shifting the metal.