American Marketer

Events / Causes

Bentley curates branded experiences through expanded driving series

February 25, 2014


British automaker Bentley Motors is expanding its driving tours with new locations and partnerships to draw new consumers and treat Bentley loyalists to curated experiences.

The tours travel through Britain, Italy, France and parts of the United States and link up with luxury partners such as Chanel and Harrods. Providing customers with experiences that situate a brand in the larger context of luxury while demonstrating the best of what showcased products can accomplish enables automakers to cultivate loyalists.

"[There's] a combination of both [repeat attendees and new consumers], some consumers love driving with Bentley and regularly attend our events but as we expand the programs and offer different activities we are seeing new attendees as well," said Richard Durbin, news and heritage communications manager at Bentley, London.

New lands

For Bentley owners interested in exploring Britain, the "Secret Britain" tour aims to give an immersive experience.

A private lunch in the Bentley Room at Mosimann's restaurant, shopping at Harrods and a stay at a top hotel cover the London section of the tour.

Guests then traverse the countryside to glimpse the Eastnor Castle and The Cotswolds. The trip winds down at the private residences Bentley Mews.

Chanel becomes the chief theme for guests that embark on the "Guest of Chanel tour" in France. Culture, fashion, cuisine and hospitality make appearances during the trip.

Bentley Continental GT in France

Components of the trip include stopping at St. Emilion to view a Chanel-owned Chateau Canon and vineyard and other scenic locations.

Guests wrap up the event by visiting the apartment of Coco Chanel and dinner at local Bentley headquarters.

Bentley Continental GT in France

In Italy, driving takes precedence as guests take a 1,000-mile journey inspired by the Mille Migla, an open-road endurance race no longer in existence.

Private tours of the Sistine Chapel and The Coliseum are also included.

Enthusiasts can also find routes online, such as the Luxury of Spontaneity series that outlines trips in the Mediterranean and in the Western U.S.

Bentley Continental GT in the U.S.

The automaker will unveil more tours as the year goes on. Future locations include trips in Australia, Malaysia, Scotland and Canada.

Driving to loyalty

Luxury automakers continually find ways to spend more time with consumers whether through partnerships with retailers, driving tours or celebrations. Such occasions can supply the moments needed to generate brand loyalty.

Bentley has frequently leveraged the power of immersive driving tours.

For instance, Bentley built upon its 2014 Power on Ice events in Finland with a longer lineup of cars, circuits designed by four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen and options for designing a bespoke trip.

Power on Ice 2014 allows brand enthusiasts to hone their driving skills with Bentley’s team of instructors over four days while enjoying a stay in Northern Finland. Also, the new Flying Spur sedan made its debut at on Mr. Kankkunen’s circuits, where its ability to withstand harsh conditions will be tested (see story).

Other brands have tried their hand at driving events.

French automaker Bugatti is ingratiating itself with prospective North American consumers via a day-long driving program in the Grand Sport Vitesse model.

The “Dynamic Drive Experience” enables participants to drive on challenging road courses, closed roads and airport runways to get a sense of the car’s maximum potential. The brand will enact four events annually in the United States and Canada, with the first event taking place in Las Vegas (see story).

Since at their most basic level, driving tours function as extended test-drives, brands do not have to invest heavily in their coordination.

"Previous events have proved to be very successful and we wanted to further extend what we could offer customers and on a more global basis," Mr. Durbin said.

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