BBC Autos

The Roundabout Blog

At Super Bowl, Jaguar will speak the King’s English

About the author

Deputy editor of BBC Autos, Jonathan was formerly the editor of The New York Times' Wheels blog. His automotive writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Details, Surface, Intersection and Design Observer. He has an affinity for the Citroën DS and Toyota pickup trucks of the early 1990s.

Jaguar football

(Jaguar Cars; Michelle Pedone/Getty)

Jaguar would like to remind 100m television viewers that it is, indeed, quite British.

To that end, it will air a 30-second advert directed by Tom Hooper, the Academy Award-winning director of The King’s Speech, during Super Bowl XLVIII on 2 February. The automaker’s first-ever spot produced for the event, entitled “Rendezvous”, will feature three yet-to-be-disclosed actors animating the idea of British cinematic villainy, in all its coy malevolence. The strategy was announced on 7 November in New York.

With the culmination of the National Football League’s 2013-14 season still three months away, Jaguar has gotten well out in front of would-be rivals for game-day mind share. It will air a teaser advert for the Super Bowl spot (yes, an ad for an ad) on 10 November during the BBC America broadcast of the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards, of which Jaguar is the title sponsor.

That Jaguar – which, despite its Indian corporate parentage (Tata Group), has rarely cast about for a cultural identity – would emphasise its Britishness on the biggest advertising stage of the year is a matter of taking the popular culture's temperature, says Jeff Curry, vice president of the Jaguar brand in North America.

“We’re at a time of a British re-invasion,” Curry said in New York, citing the emergence of actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch (who incidentally provides the voice of Jaguar adverts in North America) as evidence that US consumers crave a connection to cool Britannia. “Brit is big right now,” added Bruce Dundore, principal at Spark 44, the agency responsible for the spot. The geography-informed strategy follows Chrysler’s resounding success from its Eminem-helmed Super Bowl XLV advert, which drew poignant connections between Detroit, Michigan, and the cars – in particular the 200 sedan – that Detroit-based Chrysler manufactured.

But whereas that two-minute opus was intended to rehabilitate a brand emerging from bankruptcy, Jaguar has seen 36% year-over-year growth in the US through October 2013. The objective is to further distinguish the company’s product lineup – which will soon welcome a coupe model based on the F-Type roadster – in a crowded sport-luxury marketplace.

“The Super Bowl is a place where brands want to break through,” Curry said. “The British villains in Hollywood, they’re sexy, they’re conniving, they’re cultured,” added Dundore. “Why not celebrate that?”