June 21, 2013
Bentley Motors is celebrating its heritage through a short film that traces its role in the development of the 24-hour Le Mans race to educate car enthusiasts and win over new fans.
"Le Mans 24 hours: Les Bentley Boys" coincides with the actual Le Mans race that runs for 24 hours starting June 22. This year’s race marks the 10th anniversary of the British automaker's previous victory and the 90th anniversary for the race itself, both of which the film discusses in its sweeping panorama of the company’s roots.
“Volkswagen Group has had great success with other Le Mans films for brands such as Audi,” said Lauren Fix, automotive expert and author of “Lauren Fix’s Guide to Loving Your Car,” Lancaster, NY.
“The movie is branded, which allows Bentley to connect with consumers who appreciate the race history at Le Mans,” she said.
“[Consumers also learn] that the racing technology is located in the cars.”
Ms. Fix is not affiliated with Bentley Motors, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.
Bentley Motors was unable to comment by press deadline.
Pitch black curves
The film by Just So Films covers much ground in approximately six minutes.
The narrative is divided into three vignettes, each chronicling a different period and side to the story.
Each section includes commentary from those associated with Bentley’s participation in the race such as drivers Derek Bell and Guy Smith and author Nick Foulkes.
The first part establishes the mythical aura of Le Mans race, a race that draws legions of fans from all over Europe, mainly Britain.
The second vignette sketches the rugged and audacious Bentley Boys who dominated the race in its earliest days.
Le Mans 24 Hours: Les Bentley Boys
Culturally relevant scenes supplement Le Mans footage and show how important this race is to the local communities.
After an nine-year drought, Bentley is competing again for the title in 2013.
Tending to the titans
Many luxury companies endorse cultural events for a chance to mingle with the communities of prospective consumers.
Bentley's decision to re-enter Le Mans race in 2003 seems designed to boost brand reputation since the company's presence is likely to raise the stakes and draw more fans.
Moreover, the automaker's choice to depict its history is one pillar in a mission to augment the public's perception of the brand's heritage.
Bentley created a microsite dedicated to the limited-edition models that tells its history with the Le Mans race and offers detailed information on each vehicle.(see story).
In addition to Bentley's heritage-based value propositions, the brand layers its approach by looking toward the future.
Bentley Motors hosted invitation-only events earlier in the year for the U.S. reveal of its new Flying Spur model.
Rather than concentrating on the historical aspects of the brand, these events highlighted the brand's capacity for innovation (see story).
By choosing the online medium rather than another outlet, Bentley is likely to reach more consumers.
"Every brand knows that not as many people are watching television," Ms. Fix said. "Newspaper and print circulation has also dropped.
"[Instead of] reaching with traditional media outlets, companies need to use other forms of communication and events," she said.
"There is a paradigm shift. Move with it and be successful."
Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York