‘Great design equals desire’: behind Land Rover’s ambitious 10-city promotional photo shoot

Refined. It connotes a certain sophistication. The new Range Rover Evoque is tying its design and campaign to that word to mark the auto as an urban chic vehicle, and it’s being driven through, and photographed in, 10 of the US’s top cities to prove it.

Although the Evoque is not a new vehicle — it launched in 2011 and was the first time that Land Rover positioned a product with an urban focus — it has been redesigned. And with that, the company looked to make a statement with its 10-city campaign.

Land Rover partnered with Cool Hunting, an independent publication that covers the intersections of design, culture and technology, both editorially and through consulting and production arms. Cool Hunting has worked with Land Rover for years, and since the two brands had mutual admiration, teaming up to feature the Evoque seemed a good fit.

“We really like the product that comes from that brand across all the different subcategories of Land Rover…. We appreciate how each one has a balance between design and functionality. For Evoque, the focus is much more on design for people who live in cities. And that is our core audience,” said Josh Rubin, editor-in-chief and cofounder of Cool Hunting.

“Working with Cool Hunting, they were just a perfect partner. They know Gerry (McGovern), who is the head designer for Land Rover, so they really understand the company. And because they’re out in the world, they can pick the right partners for us that make sense,” Kim McCullough, vice-president, marketing, Jaguar Land Rover North America, told The Drum.

Those “right partners” would be the photographers that Cool Hunting hired in each city represented. The team found local photographers to examine the idea of refinement in their hometowns through the lens of the next generation Range Rover Evoque. These selected photographers are creating imagery for ‘A Refined Point of View,’ a collection that shows refinement in their respective cities. Some markets will also have a video component that will be shared on Land Rover social and digital channels, and be broadcast in luxury cinemas via a buy with Spotlight Cinema.

“The first video we did was in Chicago, and then New York, and it’s going to be in a total of 10 cities. That allows us to have some really genuine content,” said McCullough.

That content will roll out through the year as each of the cities is photographed. Cool Hunting viewed photographer portfolios in each city, identifying those with top quality work who have a deep connection to the city they live in, as well as being familiar with photographing in that city and showing what the idea of refinement means to them.

“The program is called ‘A Refined Point of View’ because refinement is one of the keywords around the redesign of the Evoque…. We wanted to find photographers that could respond to this idea of refinement and show us what it means to them and what it means to them in their cities,” said Rubin, who called the campaign “a dream project.”

In terms of bringing the car into the project, Cool Hunting asked each photographer to create 24 images, tasking them to include the car in half those images. Specifically, they wanted a couple of the images to include a full view of the car but the rest, they said, could be more abstract, whether it be playing with reflections or looking closely at certain details or shooting from inside the car out the window.

Another important component of the campaign is having the photographers share their images and the program through their social media channels, especially since those images are part of an ad campaign and the brand is trying to reach as many people as possible. “The best way for branded content to resonate in anyone’s feed is if it feels like it fits well and naturally [there]. That’s why we want to give those photographers enough room to create images they’re going to be proud of,” said Rubin.

Both Rubin and McCullough agree that the design of the Evoque led to a natural fit with the urban landscapes, and the photographers were able to capture that in unique ways.

“For me, the car is very architectural and it has interesting lines that converge in a way that you don’t see other vehicles’ lines converge. The best example is the sloping roofline — it’s a pretty aggressive slope from front to back. At the same time, there’s a rising beltline…. It creates a sculptural and architectural form that plays nicely in the city. Another thing I like about photographing the car is that, from a distance or even out of focus, it’s recognizable as an Evoque. It’s a very specific form, and that opens up more opportunities for photography…. Nikk (La) in San Francisco, his photographs are a great example of how the car looks in nature, but also how the car looks in the city,” said Rubin.

“When you look across the entire lineup of Land Rover products, it’s design first and foremost," added McCullough. “It’s elegant design. It’s very much what (McGovern) calls reductionism. It’s just what you need. It’s not overcluttered. My shorthand for it is ‘great design equals desire.’ We want to do things where people say ‘I want that product.’”

The ‘Refined Point of View’ videos show the artists behind the photos, all of whom are Land Rover owners. In New York, photographer Joe Greer and his wife, fashion blogger Maggie Greer talk about their love of the city as they drive around, getting just the right shot of the Evoque and how it “flows with the life of a New Yorker.”

The films, available on YouTube and the dedicated Cool Hunting ‘A Refined Point of View’ website initially, lead to the photos, which are as artistic as the photographers say the Evoque is, with sometimes just angles and shadows showing off the design.

‘Live for the City’

The ‘Refined’ campaign is only one part of how Land Rover is promoting the Evoque. ‘Live for the City’ is the overarching theme, and the integrated campaign targets a younger, urban and increasingly female demographic with TV spots, social and digital content and out-of-home activations.

The lead TV spot, ‘Dog’s Dream’, shows a dog peering out an urban condo window. Below he sees the Evoque drive by and imagines himself with his head out the window, driving off-road and then traipsing through an open field to the tune of A Place in My Heart by Dom James featuring Emma Smith.

The campaign continues with out-of-home activations in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles through the fall. In Chicago, a full-size Range Rover Evoque will be staged on top of an elevated train entrance downtown. In New York, the brand will coordinate a takeover of the Oculus building near One World Trade Center this spring, and in Los Angeles, there will be a custom-painted mural on the side of the Hotel Figueroa late this summer.

“We’re also doing outdoor, which we kind of walked away from for a little while, but now doing some more expressive outdoor, like taking over the ‘el’ train in Chicago. You can tell it’s the Evoque because it has that really great shape, so it’s important to get that profile out there. We’re trying to do things that will be more attention-getting…a lot of real estate like the sides of buildings that allows it to stand out more, so it doesn’t feel like background. We’re finding the places where you can do something appropriate to the brand where we can break through,” said McCullough, adding that earned media is now just as important as paid.

By having all the media outlets pushing the Evoque, the company hopes will help it break through in a crowded automotive marketplace, especially as Land Rover enters its 71st year.

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