I love Porsches, the 911 Turbo in particular.
But a Porsche is not for the masses. A Porsche is not practical. In fact, those two words don’t even belong in the same sentence. And that’s part of the brand’s appeal. But with their new campaign, Porsche is trying to change that. Call me a purist, but I believe it’s a detriment to the brand.
In their new TV spot, they cleverly display a variety of vehicles adding tangible value to their owners lives. It plays on some emotions and the production value is great. As a spot, I like it (although it does seem like a parody).
Then there is the website, which focuses on the new ‘values’ of Porsche – all weather, usability, comfort, safety, efficiency – and enables real Porsche owners share their stories of how the car adds value to their everyday life. It’s good content, and the Client must love it because the ‘features’ are frequently featured.
But does it do right by the brand? Do statements like “Porsche. Engineered for Comfort” make sense? Doesn’t this seem like a campaign for Toyota??
Porsche is the ultimate in speed and performance. A brand that has previously espoused the need for practicality. If you own a Porsche you can afford to have other cars that are ‘practical’.
So why the change?
According to my colleague Heidi McCulloch: research. And to paraphrase her thinking, this is an example of research leading people (aka Clients) astray.
The problem we have with the campaign is this: the key to good branding is to know who you are and work it. And with this campaign, Porsche is not being Porsche. Yes, they are trying to change perceptions – but changing the core of who you are? Bad idea. As Adam Morgan noted in his famous book ‘Eating the Big Fish‘, the most poweful brands have a Lighthouse Identity – they don’t follow consumers and do what they do; they stand for something and show consumers the ‘way’. In this case, Porsche is definitely following the consumer. And by doing so, their marketing department is not being a good brand steward.
This campaign is a good demonstration of advertising doing its job: trying to change people’s perceptions. And it may succeed. Heck, I bet sales will increase in the short-term. But if I were a Porsche owner (and I’m not, although I’ve had many dreams about it) I don’t think I’d like the new image. The words ‘comfort’, ‘safety’, ‘efficiency’ do not fit with the Porsche identity, nor should they. And given that one’s identity is, uh, pretty integral to marketing and overall business success, I’m just not sure this change is the right thing to do.
What are you’re thoughts?