Automakers do test-drive events for some very good reasons, principal among them being that people go in consumers and come out customers. But how does one get them to put you on their busy calendar? Some car companies entice them with food, some with performances and lifestyle events, and some with a promotional offer for getting their butts in seats. Jaguar dangled something different, combining the test-drive experience with an acting gig in an action movie.
The automaker has spent the last couple of years establishing itself, with the help of dedicated agency Spark44, as a dark challenger to the luxury norm with a “British Villains” motif to introduce the F-Type coupe. Now it is touting its new Jaguar XE compact luxury sedan through “The Art of Performance Tour.” While the multi-city, six-month tour lets consumers in different cities drive the car way before its late-Spring sale date, the program also puts them in a very short action film, and promotes the event through Facebook and Instagram to let people share the experience.
The effort, which also shows off the brand’s new F-PACE SUV, is all about the movies. Probably not a coincidence that it launched in Los Angeles at the auto show last fall. Jaguar had a vehicle or two in the recent Bond film, Spectre, and its original campaign for the F-Type featured a few A-list Brits in a narrative about a sinister cartel whose members cruise along in helicopters and F-Types, while extolling the virtues of villainy, without spilling a drop of English Breakfast.
People who take part in the “Art of Performance” program get to be in “The Audition” without an actual audition, which never happens in real life unless you’re a star. The setup puts participants in a film starring actor Graham McTavish. Invitees show up to the test-drive location, but before hopping into the XE, they are ushered into a studio (the event in Los Angeles was at Raleigh Studios) for an acting gig, where they do several different takes that insert them into a chase narrative, beginning with their stepping through the door into McTavish’s cryptic warehouse for a “conversation” with the actor, who asks him or her to do an espionage task involving performance driving.
Cut to the chase, so to speak: Participants jump behind the wheel of a mockup XE, where they are filmed in critical moments, reacting to quick turns, exploding vehicles in the rear-view, and ultimate success at making the getaway. All told, participants are in seven scenes inserted into the story narrative, with the completed video delivered to their phone in real time via VideoBridge. Also, Facebook video functionality allows participants to upload clips as profile video. Who wouldn’t? After doing that, people get to go through other cool experiential stations with social-media extensions, leading up to a high-performance test drive of the XE on the street and on a closed autocross course.