American Marketer

Events / Causes

Land Rover ambassador completes longest Antarctic man-haul expedition

February 11, 2014


Following the completion of The Scott Expedition, Land Rover continues to demonstrate its ability to find brand-appropriate ambassadors.

British explorers Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere trekked 1,795 miles over 105 days in Antarctica to achieve the longest man-haul polar expedition in history. Unlike many brand ambassadors, Mr. Saunders has truly embodied the values that Land Rover has tried to exude since his invitation in 2008.

"There are so many moments when we wondered how we were going to keep moving it's hard to pick one," said Ben Saunders, British polar explorer and Land Rover ambassador. "But the time that really stands out is the final days descending the Beardmore Glacier.

"The Beardmore Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in the world and is riddled with crevasses," he said.

"On the way up it was relatively kind to us but by the time we made our way back down a month or so later the surface had changed, weather had turned ferocious and we found ourselves battling a fierce wind that propelled us and our sleds along the icy surface allowing little control in negotiating crevasses that we were crossing - some several storeys deep.

Wide open

Jaguar Land Rover had invited fans to follow global brand ambassador Ben Saunders Oct. 4 on the 1,800-mile, four-month expedition from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole on foot.

The Scott Expedition was named after Captain Scott’s original Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole in 1912, which ended in failure. Mr. Saunders’ expedition began where Captain Scott left off in a bid to complete the journey (see story).

The physical and mental perseverance needed to accomplish the expedition obviously appealed to Land Rover, a brand that strives to convey tenacity in its campaigns.

From Day 39 of the expedition

Throughout the expedition, fans could visit the expedition's Web site to track the journey. A daily blog informed the audience about the weather conditions, how the pair was faring physically, psychologically and physiologically and other key details.

From day 98

On Day 98 readers learned that the duo walked 24.5 miles over 10 hours in 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -5.8 Fahrenheit. The audience also learned that the pair was on pace to pass the last camp that Scott had set up the following day.

The most popular blog post came on Day 70 when Mr. Saunders measured his early aspirations against the many hardships that had transpired during the trek.

Day 70 of The Scott Expedition

Videos were also available to give fans a more intimate glimpse of the journey.

The most popular video looks back on the first month.

Life on Ice: A Snapshot into the First Month in Antarctica

On Feb. 7, the blog posted a "There and Back" video that captures highlights of the trip.

An Epic Antarctic Journey: There and Back

An interactive map tracked the distance traveled each day.

Live tracking map

"Exploration is an integral part of Land Rover’s DNA," said Chris Ramey president of Affluent Insights, Miami, FL. "Instilling brand DNA is essential to brand sustenance. There are few opportunities like the Scott Expedition.

"Choosing brand ambassadors can be tricky," he said. "In this case, Ben Saunders and Land Rover are kindred spirits.

"Brand ambassadors must connect dots. It needs to makes sense to the person the brand is trying to sell. Choosing a celebrity solely because they’re a celebrity damages a brand."

"Selling luxury often requires fascinating your affluent target. Leveraging a final frontier is a unique opportunity."

Going for genuine

Rather than going with a brand ambassador who has the star power to turn heads, Land Rover finds candidates who authentically embody and reinforce its core values.

For instance, Land Rover United Kingdom honored equestrian show jumping champion Ben Maher and dressage champion Laura Tomlinson with videos that illustrate how both brand ambassadors train for and achieve success.

The “Equestrian: Pursuit of Excellence” videos are found on the brand’s Facebook page and explore what it takes to be a champion in equestrian sports. Land Rover is likely to engage consumers more by adding digital content to go along with the selection of the new brand ambassadors (see story).

Other automakers deliberate over branded collaborations as well.

For example, BMW North America is putting its design credibility to the test during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, by creating the sled for the United States' two-man bobsled team.

The U.S. team enlisted BMW to design a more efficient bobsled, and the automaker has invested significant resources into the project. For a team that has not won a gold medal since 1936, looking to innovators in alternative fields may provide a crucial edge (see story).

For brands that push the envelope on design innovation, teaming up with athletes that push their mind and body to the test seems like a natural fit.

"Land Rover has the same pioneering spirit that it takes to complete a challenge such as the Scott Expedition," Mr. Saunders said.

"They go above and beyond - are a leader rather than follower, who have an incredibly rich heritage and are unafraid of innovating and continuing to push boundaries," he said.

"I'm so grateful to Land Rover. They've been the most fantastic supporters of the Scott Expedition and I'm thrilled to call them our partner."

Final Take
Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York