Adventures in Marketing: The Welcome Return of Body Damage

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
adventures in marketing the welcome return of body damage

Automakers go to great pains to show off their vehicles in the best possible light. Via the deft touch of their respective marketing teams, ordinary machines suddenly grow the ability to do the impossible: getting the hopelessly nerdy guy his dream girl, soothing inconsolable babies, and performing feats of strength that would leave even Frank aghast.

In official pictures and film, the worst fate to befall a vehicle is normally an artistic splattering of mud around the wheel wells. Perfection is always a car wash away.

Not so in the “ad” just released by Jaguar Land Rover, which piggybacks on the exploits of a filmmaking team and gives them all the marketing support they ask for in return. Despite JLR using a Bond movie to its benefit, it’s good to see a vehicle being put to its full potential in a commercial — and sustaining damage in the process. It harkens back to those old Volvo ads of yore, in which abuse factors heavily.

Titled “Unstoppable,” the Land Rover Defender spot features the filming of scenes from the upcoming flick No Time to Die, the plot of which surrounds Bond’s post-spy career as a salesman struggling to make ends meet in the highly competitive SUV market.

I think.

The takeaway from this torture-a-thon is that the returning Defender can impact the ground at an alarming nose-down angle and drive away without catastrophic damage to its linkages. None that we can see, anyway. Are these Defenders completely stock, you ask? Of course not. As the fine print on a related website states, “Vehicles modified for stunt work: Defender features extreme duty roof, front beams and undertray; roll cages; safety fuel cell. Non-production seats and belts, engine cooling, tyres and ride-height.” I’d like to hear more about the ride height modifications.

The finale of the clip shows the model performing a half barrel roll, impacting on its hood and roof and coming to rest upright, front fender and hood crumpled. It then drives off, front passenger-side tire rubbing the now-exposed wheel well liner. Your real-world experience will, of course, vary.

Anyway, it’s great stuff for viewers who demand a visceral demonstration of what their life could look like in an OEM’s latest ride. Great, as well, because vehicle marketing is so often tame with a capital “T.” No puppies, kids, friends, or spouse in sight here.

Yes, JLR wouldn’t be putting a Defender through these kinds of paces were it not for the movie, but product placement in a film can be even better than a marketing campaign — assuming the movie isn’t a box office turkey. Think of the Dodge Ram extended cab in Twister or the unbelievable torture test endured by the (apparently stock) Ford pickup in the Charles Bronson flick Mr. Majestyk. Ford made hay out of that appearance, and it wasn’t even a new model!

As stated before, the JLR spot is a more entertaining and cinematic take on those old Volvo commercials, which started off with angry drivers beating the shit out of their Amazons and ended with stately 760s launching off the roof of buildings. Overseas, customers were treated to a dance, and a very Eurocentric one at that.

Other automakers should think about breaking free from the mold, leaving picture-perfect locales, pristine paintwork, and CGI behind.

[Image: Jaguar Land Rover/YouTube]

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12 of 18 comments
  • -Nate -Nate on Feb 20, 2020

    Amazingly, y son actually drives his 4X4 like this on a regular basis and cracks the frame and breaks springs and so on.... Looks like I'll go see this movie, I hope it's any good . -Nate

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Feb 20, 2020

    Nope. A leap of the imagination too far. I highly doubt the Defender is a minivan, despite Hummer's derision for anything but blacksmith technology. You might not have noticed, but the Defender is longitudinal engine not transverse where the ZF 9 speeder is used, not only in Chryslers, but also Acura TLX, Acura MDX and the Odyssey.

    • See 9 previous
    • Theshed Theshed on Oct 13, 2020

      @Hummer "it’s not going 10% of the places a stock wrangler will go. Off-roading requires a very straight forward setup. Only in your imagination can this ever be considered a capable off-road vehicle." You must be joking, Right ? The wrangler has the advantage of ground clearance and probably suspension travel but put it in real rough stuff. Mud, hills, sand the Defender will be towing it home. Agreed, this new Defender has far to much electrickery but these days that is what you get and it will get you where you need to be.

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.