Vauxhall To Get a New Image
What do you think about when someone says Vauxhall? A premium brand? Sporty cars? Luxury? Probably not. You are more likely to think about rep-mobiles like the Cavalier, Vectra or Insignia, depending upon your age.
What do you think about when someone says Vauxhall? A premium brand? Sporty cars? Luxury? Probably not. You are more likely to think about rep-mobiles like the Cavalier, Vectra or Insignia, depending upon your age. You may also think about some decent small cars like the Astra or Corsa. The truth is that Vauxhall has suffered more than most from image problems, throughout its history. Some of this criticism has been just. Quality has been patchy over the years and style has sometimes been conspicuous by its absence from the range. Now, however, that may be about to change.
The first car to make a dent in Vauxhall’s dreary reputation was probably the Astra. In series five of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson famously said that he would eat his own hair if the new Astra looked as good as the concept car. Actually, it did and Anthony Worrall Thompson cooked up the tasty dish. Now, Vauxhall are looking forward to the new Corsa and a relaunched Viva and Vauxhall chairman and managing director, Tim Tozer, says that the company will also be launching a fresh image to go with the new cars. He is bullish about the company’s prospects but not quite as bullish as his predecessor, Duncan Aldred, who made the bold prediction that Vauxhall would overtake Ford as Britain’s number one car seller this year.
Tozer admits that this statement was a bit of a ‘hospital pass’ but does say that Vauxhall will be well-positioned to give Ford ‘a damn good run for its money next year with three new small cars’. The first of these three new small cars is the reworked Adam and this will be followed by an updated Corsa, a car that Tozer describes as a ‘car for middle England’. These models will be followed next year by the replacement for the Agila. This will be based on the Chevrolet Spark platform and built in South Korea. Although Tozer will not comment officially, it is an open secret that this new model will be called the Viva in the UK. The original Viva was discontinued in 1979 and was the last car completely built by Vauxhall, before the company started to rebrand Opel cars.
These exciting new cars make it a good time for Tozer to develop a new brand identity for the company, which built its first cars in 1903 at Vauxhall in London. Tozer thinks that the new brand is overdue. He says: “Vauxhall hasn’t been invested in, nurtured or developed in the way it should. Is it sexy and aspirational? No. It’s been pushed into the market without much pull and it’s a bit of a promotional brand, which is sad, because the cars are much better than that.”
Tozer has been sounding out marketing firms and also taking counsel from Opel’s marketing chief, Tina Muller, a well-known brand marketing expert. He is looking to give Vauxhall a new confidence and ‘spring in its step’ but he is conscious of the need not to overdo the firm’s abilities as a ‘premium’ brand. He says: “If I had heard the word premium in my job interview I’d have been deeply sceptical. Premium usually means there is a problem with the pricing and the positioning of the cars.”
Instead, Tozer insists: “Vauxhall is a generalist car brand. It’s clearly not a brand for marketing social demographic groups A or B, we are a brand for Cs and Ds, offering quality, value for money and an identity that is woven into the fabric of Britain.”
The exact details of the new brand are still unknown but Tozer says that it must be flexible enough to suit ‘savvy customers who like a deal and are quite happy to buy this from Waitrose and that from Aldi’. Tozer says that the company still faces some stiff challenges, with a squeeze on most people’s finances. He says that the new brand must therefore be bold and confident to succeed.