Land Rover Redefines Branded Entertainment With 'The Vanishing Game'

Land Rover North America is all about branded content, with programs around adventurers, climbers, paddle-boarders, and record-breakers in different fields. But now the automaker is taking a direction one might normally expect of sibling Jaguar: extolling the brand’s adventure credentials via a British suspense narrative. It is also unique to product placement in general. 

Probably best to describe it as an interactive digital book, since a galaxy of rich media elaborations orbit around a joint project with British author William Boyd. The book, The Vanishing Game, and its marketing platforms were developed with Y&R’s New York office, with digital firm Tool of North America developing the Tumblr page where the novel is (digitally) shelved. 

Said the author, in a statement, "A Land Rover is part of the mental geography of almost every British person, I believe. Consequently, to be asked to write a story in which a Land Rover features was immensely appealing, almost an act of homage. What I tried to achieve was to make the Land Rover an inherent presence in the story." 

The storyline unspools a narrative in which Dunbar takes off on a routine delivery trip from London to Scotland in a classic Land Rover Defender. The suspense and mystery unfolds as various unsavory types show up in the hinterlands. The story's digital organization, using video, cinemagraphs, photography, animation, sound, music and narration, lets readers toggle multimedia functions (for mobile, desktop, tablets). A social driver encourages people to share content. A separate eBook edition of the novel is free as of Wednesday on Apple’s iBooks Store (iPad and Mac) and from Kindle Store on Kindle e-readers, and Fire tablets. And its a free Kindle app for Android, iOS, PC, Mac, and web browsers.

Land Rover gets product spotlights via live text that launches imagery and video. Click a word and thematically related content launches showing Land Rover vehicles in action. The story has, for example, scroll-over embedded rich content featuring real owners on the road in their Land Rovers. The brand is housing those stories at #WellStoried. 

Boyd, who wrote a James Bond adaptation last year, will promote The Vanishing Game via “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit on Nov. 23. For its part, Land Rover is promoting the novel via custom content and paid posts on media like Vox Media, Quartz,, NewsCred and digital versions of publications like Departures and Travel + Leisure. The automaker says Spotify is making a custom playlist meant to evoke the nature of Dunbar's journey, and the Land Rover ethos of exploration and adventure. Land Rover is also doing rich digital ads via TripleLift and Undertone, and social promotion on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.

Separately, sibling Jaguar is doing an augmented reality experience for Google Glass, via AR platform Blippar. People with Glass who "blipp" Jaguar ads in Conde Nast magazines get a virtual experience of sitting in the XJ and XF models, including a 360 degree interior. Blippar says it is the first time any brand has created an immersive AR experience using Blippar gyroscope technology on Glass. 

The technology also opens video content featuring Nicholas Hoult, the star of Jaguar's "British Intelligence" campaign, and a gallery. If you don't happen to have Glass, you can "blipp" the the ads from mobile devices, activating a less immersive experience.

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