What should we learn from Rolls Royce advertisements?

Aabha Gopan
7 min readSep 3, 2019

The craze for branded products has been around for a while now. So much so that we let the number of branded items we own define our character and most importantly, where we stand in the social pyramid. One such brand that is a major boost to a person’s social status is the Rolls Royce (RR).

We don’t see RR doing any work to create a brand name. Most importantly, how is Rolls Royce famous when they hardly advertise?

A little research showed me that the attention they are getting is not solely because of their quality. You will, just like me, appreciate their advertisements once you read/ watch them. One of their printed ads was so famous that it won awards. Eager to know more?

Let’s have a look at the advertising journey of the car legend.

1920s

There is no room for doubt. Rolls Royce chose only the best copywriters to create their ads and we can undoubtedly say that each of their ads spoke to people. The ads painted an image of RR showing how it befits the prominent luxurious lifestyle of the elite. With such ads, it didn’t take long for RR to become the symbol of class.

1930s

If you read through the ads of the 1930s, you will notice subtle differences from their previous ads. What stands out is how the ads have ceased pressing about RR’s social influence and have focused on their other physical marvelousness. We can deduce that people grew more concerned about the quality of what they bought or RR could have withdrawn aiming for the rich, classy socialites! The second observation is highly unlikely because of the explicit standards RR believes in, but it can’t be completely pushed aside.

1940s

“The best car in the world”- that’s their tagline.

When the richest of the richest want a car, they will search for the best. And RR claimed that it’s the best. They had time on their side to prove their claim true — people admired their cars for its design that didn’t compromise on luxury and quality. By the 1940s, RR had a huge fan base and people would stop to ogle as it passed by.

1950s

In 1959, RR released an ad which is considered one of the best ads even today.

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”

David Ogilvy, the father of advertising, studied RR for three months before he came up with a handful of titles from which this was picked out by his employees. Guess what? Their sales increased by 50% after this ad! It became so popular that Ford referred to it after years. You will find it in their new RR Phantom ad too.

1960s

The ads of the 1960s aimed to impress people by educating them about the benefits and characteristics of their cars. They wrote about their posh setting, spacious interior and considerate engineering made to accumulate an extravagant lifestyle and give comfort. By doing so, they introduced the readers to a dream about experiencing the best and owning it one day. Their articles did a good job showing beautiful images of them traveling and this proved to be a good strategy to lure in customers.

1970s

There is no limit to what words can do. Words have caused wars and can also bring peace. Words can also make people buy things. That’s exactly what RR, like other B2C businesses, has been doing. The only difference between the other businesses and RR is that they are exceptionally good at it.

By the 1970s, RR was not only a symbol of high social status but also that of quality. This perception led to many businesses comparing their products with RR.

This article shows how sassy and confident they are about their brand name. We can’t deny it. Rolls Royce still leaves people mesmerized and flabbergasted.

Will anyone sell a good car that runs smoothly and has the best design even after decades? This isn’t just a claim- the Queen of England sold her 40-year-old Rolls Royce only last year. RR made sure that this attribute of their’s was advertised as well.

1980s

Not everyone can afford a RR. Just stating a fact! But is it fair to stop everyone else from experiencing world-class driving? RR has shown its concern towards who drives its cars before. They had released well-written ads on how the owner’s personality will change when they buy their cars. But, in the 1980s, Rolls Royce started giving their cars for lease- letting everyone experience the luxury of driving the best.

1990s

Even though television had made its grand appearance in the 1950s, RR didn’t acknowledge its presence till the 2000s. Unlike other brands which utilized the growing influence of TV, RR restricted itself to conventional advertising via newspaper and magazines in which they were experts. You know what they say- OLD HABITS DIE HARD.

Adopting new technology is as crucial as evolving to survive. RR didn’t seem to agree with this notion and it would have hit them hard if they were not ranked among the best cars in the world. The trust and respect they earned over the years helped them.

2000s

Rolls Royce finally stepped its game up. After decades, they made their first on-screen appearance advertising for the Rolls Royce Ghost in 2009. The video is not too long and has soothing music in the background which explicitly portrayed simplicity — exactly how they introduced their car. Even though they entered the world of internet and videos, RR didn’t hold itself back from publishing articles and print ads.

2010s

What surprises me is that RR, a brand renowned for its quirky and classy ads went forward without using words in their video advertisements. Because of which, most might not admit, their ads were incomplete and failed to put across what they wanted to convey. Most of the videos consist of 2 to 3 minutes long torturous driving, hot young models laughing and of course, a picturesque display of the car’s sheer structure.

However, it took RR a few years to make ads that reached their prior standards — better late than never.

Conclusion

I have come to the conclusion that branding is too important to ignore. In fact, ‘Brandless’- an e-commerce platform which doesn’t believe in branding- has become a brand itself! It is inevitable to avoid branding in business. As far as your firm has a name and a logo, it can become a huge brand one day.

So, how did they make it?

We can see that their advertisements — of the 20th century — got them into the list of best cars and also a brand name. It is because of the trust and brand name that they build over the years that they successfully dealt with difficulties and still have a hold in the industry. Their authentic style of writing and customer-centric content helped them build their empire.

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