News of Victoria Beckham’s association with the new Range Rover Evoque project has been headline news this week, which was the point of course. The tabloids still have a thing for Posh Spice, years after she made much of a pretence to be anything other than a celebrity mother, fashion designer, brand ambassador, WAG – in short the consumate modern celebrity; and one whose vaccuity you suspect but can never really confirm, and whose loyalty and fierce motherhood temper any questions you might begin to ask about the underlying horror of eveything to do with the Beckham global brand.
But apparently Posh has a real job with Range Rover and that her work comittment will amount to 20 days per year. And for this she is given a serious job title too, that of Creative Design Executive. Apparently she will be tinkering with the interior design elements and, most importantly, ‘helping the designers understand what a new type of Range Rover customer wants’.
To understand what the noveau riche want then, it’s tempting to say. But then this is such a snobbish statement that I cannot believe I have just offered it. And yet it is the standpoint from which many of the ahem serious critics of this appointment emerge, that of devaluing the efforts of the exisiting teams in place. The criticisms then are essentially conservative and to do with the violation of an existing code.
As the marriage of dwarf-throwing Mike Tindall to the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips shows, the aristocracy need to adapt or die, to take on and inject newer, tougher genes into the gene pool, no matter how ugly the process will be.
And so it is with the Range Rover Evoque. Nobody has the cache of Range Rover; and yet if they are to make the most of their brand in the current market atmospheric they need to spread this cache around and thin it out if necessary.
The current Range Rover market is dominated not by British aristocrats but, in reality, by oligarchs and footballers/gangsters for whom money is less of an object than pure status. Aristocrats meanwhile are probably driving a diesel Qashqui or stuck with their 1980s Volkwagen Golf.
Concerns about the devalutian of the brand then are detached form reality but show an endearing attachment in the design establishment at least to the separations of old:
‘The risk of alienating Range Rover’s historically very loyal customer base is another concern. “Range Rover used to be about driving to the country pile at 100mph, going out on the land shooting pheasants before riding back up to London in time for Monday,” suggested one brand strategist. “It has always been an elitist brand, but there was also an important degree of mystique. With the Beckham brand there is no mystique, its just unashamed, balls-out richness. Fundamentally, Posh isn’t that posh.”
And so the snobbery rolls on. But there’s probably a fair amont of truth in the above statement. Range Rover’s current owner Tata wants to push the brand out into the discomfort zones of Essex and (probably more representative) other aspirational grounds in Eastern Europe and beyond, where the cache of the Range Rover brand will drive the Evoque onto success, if not universal approval from those curious guardians of the British cultural structure.