PHD Global Business
The Economist, The Rake, Wired, Wallpaper*, Harper’s Bazaar, Unit9, KEKO
An Extraordinary Journey To The Future
Bentley is perceived as a brand stuck in the past, not a brand looking towards the future
In 2019, Bentley celebrated a milestone birthday of 100 years. The emphasis placed on this incredible brand heritage and craftsmanship had been the focus of Bentley’s communications for many years. The heritage story had successfully resonated with the traditional Bentley audience of older high net worth individuals and delivered impressive sales. However, this traditional audience is in decline and a new generation of high net worth individuals are emerging. This new audience are a very different breed from the past audience, often rejecting the old tenants of luxury and placing more emphasis on different values.
The challenge faced by Bentley was that this new, more progressive audience didn’t associate Bentley with their own future focused values around sustainability and innovation. They perceived Bentley as a brand in the past, one that talked about heritage, not the future. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bentley and this new audience shared the same values around sustainability and innovation, it’s just that we’d never communicated the values to them before. In order to future proof the brand for the next 100 years we needed to find a way to connect Bentley with this new audience. We needed to prove that Bentley is a future thinking brand.
The Creative Solution
The strategy was to get people to experience Bentley’s extraordinary journey to the future
The EXP 100 GT (Bentley’s Centenary Concept Car) was the perfect platform to demonstrate Bentley’s commitment to the future through setting the benchmark for sustainable luxury mobility and innovation. The EXP 100 GT was the physical embodiment of Bentley’s vision for the future. It was our extraordinary journey to the future, and we needed to get our new progressive audience to experience it.
Sustainability manifested itself in several ways via the EXP 100 GT, including innovation, materials, environment, economy and wellness.
From our audience research, we uncovered that wellness is becoming more important for our new progressive audience . One part of our creative solution focused on how Bentley created a wellness enriching environment using adaptable biometric seating, air curation inside and outside the car, and the use of light harvesting to create the ultimate wellness driving experience.
Our audience are digital natives and expect the latest in technology from the brands they encounter. The second part of our creative solution was to showcase the new state of the art technology Bentley had developed for the concept car. For instance , you could curate and augment the driving experience and the view around you via the smart glass and wearable accessories.
The creative solution also took craftsmanship and collaboration to a new direction for Bentley . For instance, Bentley worked together with the Cumbria Crystal artisans to interpret age-old techniques to suit modern trends, creating the crystal centrepiece which houses the voice-activated Al console.
Every single facet of the concept car and how it was made had an authentic story behind it. Bentley’s brand promise of future extraordinary journeys had the potential to resonate perfectly with this new progressive audience; Bentley were speaking the same language. However, how we told the story to this audience was critical. Anything that we did within our communications had to be authentic or this new audience would reject us.
The Media/Content Amplification Solution
Authentic partners to tell authentic stories
We knew that authenticity was extremely important to this new progressive audience, so the first thing we had to do was find the right partners who were authentic to Bentley and could tell authentic stories to our audience. We selected five content partners who could credibly convey sustainability and innovation and provide high reach and affinity with the new audience . These were: Economist 1843, Harper’s Bazaar Art, The Rake, Wired and Wallpaper* .
The role of the content partnerships was to build new associations with Bentley around sustainability and innovation by facilitating experiences and interaction with the future vision of the brand. The content strategy was to maximise authenticity by aligning the future Bentley story with the editorial focus of the platform. For instance, Wired were best placed to lead with the technological innovation story, whereas Economist 1843 were best placed to tell the story of economic sustainability and sustainable luxury mobility. To embed these new memory structures, we worked with the partners to create multi-sensory content in the form of video, podcasts, events and long form print and digital. We even created a piece of conceptual art. Our partnership with Bazaar Art involved the collaboration with interdisciplinary designer and digital artist, Lucy Hardcastle, who crafted a masterpiece inspired by the EXP 100 GT.
We knew that if we wanted to dial up perceptions around innovation, this had to be reflected in the way we behaved in media. We utilised highly engaging video formats across Facebook, lnstagram, Linkedln, Twitter , YouTube and Sn apchat . For programmatic digital display we ran high impact video and animated banner formats, targeting audiences and contexts around sustainability and innovation. To distribute the content across premium inventory, we partnered with Teads and Mobkoi, who created an innovative mobile unit. Both social and digital display drove people to the centenary microsite to discover more content and interact with the 360 experience of the EXP 100 GT.
Our global campaign was planned and implemented centrally and ran across the UK, US, DACH region, Middle East, Australia, Russia, New Zealand and South East Asia. The campaign ran from Bentley’s birthday in July until the end of December 2019.
Bentley is perceived as a brand looking towards the future, not a brand looking in the past
We commissioned independent research to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign in shifting the dial across key brand metrics and perceptions of Bentley. The study involved a quantitative survey-based cross-media control and exposed methodology . The exposed and control samples consisted of two groups: the traditional Bentley audience and the new progressive audience .
The results showed that the campaign had significantly impacted perceptions around Bentley as a sustainable brand amongst the new progressive audience (an uplift of +5.6 percentage points amongst the exposed sample). Perceptions around innovation had also significantly increased by 17.5 percentage points .
Whilst not statistically significant, the campaign also positively impacted brand perceptions around authenticity (an increase of 1.9 percentage points) and collaboration (an increase of 2 percentage points).
What was even more encouraging to see was the impact that the campaign had on purchase intent. The research showed that purchase intent amongst the new audience had significantly increased by 10.7 percentage points, which is far higher than we were expecting.
The research showed that the content partnerships were the key driver of the positive shift in perceptions around innovation and sustainability. However, perceptions were even more positive for those exposed to all media channels (social, display and content partnerships), validating our multi-channel strategy.
We recognised that evolving perceptions was not going to happen overnight, particularly amongst this new progressive audience. However, the results exceeded our expectations . It reassured us that we were making steps in the right direction towards appealing to a new audience . We acknowledge that we are very much still on a journey, but ultimately, we proved that this campaign has played a significant part towards future proofing Bentley.