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Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The E-Type, image from Jag-lovers.org

Can a bad advertising campaign really kill a brand? Or is a creative misfire simply the final straw for a struggling company? Jaguar is in trouble. Regardless of its long, illustrious history, with products that have practically been canonised for their cultural impact, Jaguar's financial nightmare is ongoing. Latest reports suggest that the marque is being eyed up either by the Koreans or the Russians (although the latter is now less certain), as owners Ford look to offset their rather poor investment.

All of this is par for the course in the cut and thrust world of the modern motor industry, where alliances, mergers and outright takeovers have re-shaped the landscape of car manufacturers, rendering ideas about national characteristics in design all but irrelevant. But hang on. Every product has a story, a back story of imagery and perceptions collated from histories real and imagined. When trying to sell a car, you need to build on this myth, if necessary embellishing it and enhancing it for a new generation.

So why did the company decide to use the absurd 'Gorgeous' campaign? This hotch-potch of cliches and dated imagery, devised by Euro RSCG (more credits here) showed such a fundamental misunderstanding of how a brand might want to conduct itself that it was almost a parody (you can watch one of the spots here). A rasping male voice intones hollow words ('Gorgeous gets in everywhere') over absurd fashion-shoot aesthetics of predominantly older men with younger women in an embarrassment of mid-life fantasy scenarios. 'Gorgeous' succeeded in translating Jaguar's feline qualities (not exactly a stretch to maintain) into a blizzard of feral, Older guys gone wild imagery.

Unsurprisingly, industry criticism was vociferous and widespread, with the ads even falling into the dread 'so bad they're good' category (or, 'hideous, not gorgeous'). True, a few people loved the campaign, but the overall impression was that of a company hopelessly out of touch, not just with itself, but with how such images might play in a post-ironic culture. The company is now reduced to staking it all on this car (which will hopefully look rather different - perhaps more akin to the RD-6 concept from 2003). Gorgeous went down like a stone in the water. Here's hoping the company doesn't too.

*

Other things. The dawn of the knitted dead at cakeyvoice (via scorzonera) / do we have emergency food and water suppliers like this here in the UK? Perhaps if enough 'influential' people read this kind of post, then maybe there'll be a demand for them / music links and downloads at Indiepoprock / make your own flipbooks from movies at flipclip / nice new set of crop circles / The Unconscious Art Of Demolition, a flickr pool / one self-portrait every day since 1 November 2001, the movie / 13a Copleston Road, art and installation in SE15.

Versailles in the Pacific, a true flight of fancy, combining the news that Japanese researchers can now shape water with the Advanced Multiple Organized Experimental Basin (AMOEBA). Pruned concludes this might have negative consequences: 'It'll be a new kind of maritime warfare. New York comes under attack with an endless barrage of Italianate gardens propagated with Atlantic waters' / buy an island, with one not very careful owner (via memepool) / Soviet Gadgets / here comes the Creationist Museum. Take a walkthrough / who said video games aren't a spectator sport? A rather specialised one, granted.

On becoming immersed in another world at Plasticbag. Tom has also compiled an epic post On the design of American State Flags / Hyperkit visit Orfordness and see some boats in Suffolk. See also the Subterranea Britannica for more information on Orfordness / Palaces of Dreams, prints by Burghers, just one of many, many things at The Culture Archive (via me-fi) / A Walk in the Park, our latest piece over at tmn / 'Failed Icons: Why it's so hard to make unforgettable architecture', Witold Rybczynski on big architectural statements.

Art Crimes Against Humanity, taste and lack of identified at Jesse Walker's New City Movement, a Salt Lake City-based weblog / found via the comments, My Part of Nairobi, musings and observations from a missionary in the field. We like the way consumer products have a second life in the developing world (this 1968 Nissan pick-up, for example), or an old, yet modern, petrol station / using SNOT techniques to fashion Escher from Lego (via). As opposed to this Esher, which would probably be easier to make in Lego.

The Cartoonist's link to the Ward Lock Illustrated Guide Books shows the Gaiety Theatre on the Strand, just before it was demolished in 1957 and replaced with the sleek new HQ of the then English Electric Company Ltd. This building eventually became Citibank and last year it also came down and is gradually being replaced by Foster and Partner's Silken Hotel. Initial information via Arthur Lloyd.co.uk, an extensive site about the music hall pioneer, with huge amounts of information about entertainment in pre-war London. The English Electric Company itself was subsumed into Marconi. Their late 50s building was the work of Charles Holden and Adams, Holden and Pearson; their many projects include Senate House and the National Library of Wales, home to the Women's Archive of Wales and a large map collection.