Land Rover Sends Film Crews To Real Natural Disasters To Shoot Their Cars As "Hero Cars"

Reader Mars tips us off to this Brandweek article about Land Rover’s soon to be launched commercial campaign where Land Rover sends film crews to the sites of actual natural disasters while they are in progress to get footage of the Land Rovers “in action” as “hero cars.”

The article is written for Brandweek’s audience of marketers and ad execs, and the effect is slightly sickening.

From Brandweek:

…director Scott Duncan is helming the work. When a natural disaster strikes, he and his crew go on location to capture footage. For example, when floods hit Levasy, Mo., last month, Duncan’s crew swooped in like a SWAT team to film the LR3 in action.

Turpin said the first spot, breaking next week, would show the LR3 using its hydraulic lift and sealed undercarriage to navigate flooded streets strewn with disabled cars.

“Our strategic insight came from planning,” said Turpin, who joined the agency in September after working on Toyota at Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi. “Land Rovers are designed way beyond the margins of normal, to conquer any terrain on Earth.”

Turpin wants the new campaign to appeal to old-school Discovery drivers as well as to soccer moms who want to know that their SUV is more than a glorified grocery wagon.

Here’s the best part. The footage will be used in commercials that feature the following cool slogans:

“The odds of your neighborhood getting more rain than the Amazon: 270 to 1. The LR3. Created for the one.”

“The odds a billion gallons of water will run through your neighborhood: 25 to 1. The LR3. Created for the one.”

A spokesperson for the ad agency said, “When it snows big time, we’ll go out and do that. And when hurricane season starts, we’ll go there,” he said.

Another agency rep:

“This adds emotional value to the LR3’s purpose-built design character,” said Rick Eiserman, North American managing partner, Y&R, Irvine, Calif. “Building off the halo of major news stories, [the productions] will lead to community and humanitarian support, increasing LR3’s relevance on a brand, social and community level.”

In order to “ensure that the brand isn’t seen as exploiting disaster,” Land Rover will make donations to relief organizations. Ugh! That’s messed up! We don’t even know what to say about how messed up that is. —MEGHANN MARCO

Land Rover Literally Gets Into the Action [Brandweek via Autoblog] (Thanks, Mars!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. lordkenyon says:

    So they’re sending donations to help out disaster areas. To me this sounds much better than paying a studio and production staff to recreate some treacherous scenario on a back lot and not having a dime going to help real people.

  2. lordkenyon says:

    So they’re sending donations to help out disaster areas. To me this sounds much better than paying a studio and production staff to recreate some
    treacherous scenario on a back lot and not having a dime going to help real people.

  3. That’s … disturbing.

    Weren’t Land Rovers ranked as the hardest and most expensive to keep on the road? I suppose this shows you the lengths people will go to disprove reality.

  4. 1.Create a 16MPGish Greenhouse Gas-luvin’ SUV for Disasters…

  5. liquisoft says:

    Coincidentally, I’m in the design/advertising business. I’m not a marketing head kind of guy, but I do work with them quite often to envision how to communicate brand particulars.

    In the case of this Land Rover promotion, I hope this guy left Saatchi & Saatchi because they fired him. The gaul of this “Turpin” person is off the charts. Instead of “swooping in” to aid the victims of these natural distasters, they are instead “swooping in” to show their product conquering the disaster itself and leaving those silly, non Land Rover-having victims to fend for themselves.

    What’s sad is that it doesn’t surprise me. I read this post and wasn’t taken aback like the average person would be. Mostly because I know the type of people who work in ad agencies (the ones on top, at least) and I’m sure there was a big meeting where a ton of yes-men patted eachother on the back because it was such a great idea. Any of the more competent underlings would’ve been fired for daring to mention how ludicrous the whole idea is.

    Here’s hoping they go out to film an avalanche and get covered by 10 feet of snow. Good luck getting a Land Rover out of that.

  6. enm4r says:

    So they get to save money by not recreating disasters in a studio or on a set to show how well Landrovers perform.

    Then they get to take (some of) that saved money and donate to relief agencies that would otherwise not see a dime from them.

    Consumers get a more realistic commercial, and those in a disaster profit. Win-win?

  7. plim says:

    16 mpg? you’re generous =)

  8. Peeved Guy says:


    2. Sell them to preppie/yuppie wannabes stupid enough to think that they need a vehicle capable for traversing a flood zone for $40K a pop.

  9. @lordkenyon: Yeah, it’s so much better to send their crews out into real disasters where they’ll be in serious danger of injury and death. Filming it on a backlot doesn’t prevent them from making a donation so it doesn’t excuse sending people into hurricanes to film a car commercial.

    It would make more sense if these “hero” cars were actually being used to help people during the disaster.

  10. Crazytree says:

    they should frame the LR3 as the “MUST HAVE” car for the coming race war…

    able to withstand mobs attacking the car and a bumper robust enough to have angry people bounce off of it at 40mph with little or no damage.

    and plenty of room for your cases of MREs, a gun rack and room for all your survivalist magazines/books.

  11. lordkenyon says:

    @R.P. “It would make more sense if these “hero” cars were actually being used to help people during the disaster.”

    I agree completely. Though they aren’t stopped from making a donation otherwise, realistically, it just probably wouldn’t happen otherwise.

  12. Scuba Steve says:

    I just threw up in my mouth a little.. but then I realized I’m de-sensitized to corporate bullshit and proceeded to chew it back, as they say.

  13. hills says:

    …perhaps my screen name reveals a bias, but…. while it may seem pretty twisted, LR is doing more in these natural disasters than other car companies, right?

  14. oldhat says:

    Disturbing? Whatever. Good idea, hope it works out for them.

    Of all the horrible, soulless marketing schemes we face, this ranks as “just fine, thank you very much, best of luck selling those things”.

    Consumerist is a whiny little bitch sometimes.

  15. bambino says:

    Exploitation, plain & simple. What percentage of their total sales are these donations going to add up to? 1%? 2%?

  16. enm4r says:

    @bambino: Exploitation of who?

  17. zolielo says:

    Blah, the Defender the one and only Land Rover that is not hype and a transport to real heroes.

    Plus it has been reported that 70% of the Defender line is still on roads. Reducing waste through reuse or continued use. The UK has emission standards so those still in use are not horrible polluters.

  18. enoughwealth says:

    I see nothing wrong with this – just one more film crew at the disaster, along with 10,000 working for the “news”. As far as I know (and I admit I haven’t done any research) landrovers were putting private use AWDs in the field long before any of the others were around, and therefore have a long history of being used in disaster relief. I imagine if you look through the standard newsreels of recent disasters you’ll be able to spot plenty of land rovers (although probably more toyota landcruisers these days) moving disaster relief workers around the scene.


  19. ironchef says:

    63 percent of all SUV deaths were in rollovers. . The SUV. Created for the One.


  20. dohtem says:

    It’s gotta be weird for someone in a disaster zone, all their belongings lost, watching the LR3 go save someone else while a crew is filming it. (I mean they cant save *everyone*)

    Like a cruel joke from the Heavens.

  21. zolielo says:

    @ironchef: I wonder how many rollovers happened to SUV and their predecessors before the soccer mom trend came into being?

  22. Landru says:

    I don’t the plan is to save anyboday. I think they will just drive around and get in everybody’s way.

    And generally, I don’t think it’s a “win-win” at all. I’d be pissed to see a commercial being filmed with my ruined house in the background.

  23. zolielo says:

    @zolielo: To add to my last post. I mean rollovers on public roads not by farmers, rangers, military, and the like rolling over the SUV/4X4/etc in the middle of nowhere.

  24. andrewsmash says:

    I bet there are some rocking outtakes.

    “Oh God, it stalled in mud puddle. Get the replacement…what….the engine died when the computer crashed…because you were going to fast over the train tracks? Well, we brought seven of these things, they can’t all be broken. They are? I am sooo fired.”

  25. Bay State Darren says:

    Next up, they’ll actually cause real-life disasters to use as backdrops.

  26. bedofnails says:

    Thats why I only buy macs.

  27. bhall03 says:

    @enoughwealth: You might want to check your facts. From Land Rover’s website, their first model came out in 1948. From Jeep’s website, their first model came out in 1940. And if you put any trust in it, Wikipedia says the guy who developed the Land Rover got the idea for the vehicle from the Jeep he drove on his property.

    Jeep offered private use vehicles at least 3 years before LR and prior to that time, they weren’t used so much for disaster relief as to create disaster with the military.

  28. Trai_Dep says:

    “The odds an inept President lies the US into a strenuously cautioned-against war, turning a mildly unpleasant country into a Hobbsian Hell Hole where they torture you with Makita drills before shooting you dead: 250 to 1. The LR3. Created for the one.”

    Better clear some parking spaces in Camp Victory boys, because Land Rover’s going to Iraq!!

  29. Cap'n Jack says:

    That’s about right. Everyone I’ve ever seen in a Land Rover drives like they’re an asshole anyway. So this doesn’t surprise me at all.

  30. andyj76 says:

    If LR are hoping to film the cars as “Hero” cars, then that would suggest that the adverts should show them doing something “heroic”.
    Just driving through a waterlogged street sending a bow wave over the disabled cars on either side doesn’t really sell “hero” to me.
    However, if they send down, say 10 vehicles, and film them lifting people out of dangerous situations, rescuing property, saving small kittens etc, then they are more worthy of the “hero” title.
    What’s more, they have also sent down 10 vehicles to help out with the relief effort (unless they stage the kitten rescues, in which case, why bother when they could do it much safer at the studio)

    So… if they are filming the cars doing actual “hero” work, then noone is being exploited (you would have to wait longer to be rescued if they weren’t there), if they are not helping out, then they might as well film in front of a green screen.

  31. dbeahn says:

    “In order to control the damage from exploting these natural disasters and the pain and suffering of the people affected, we’ll make a paltry donation to a relief agency. We COULD donate a crap load of LR3’s to the Red Cross so they could ACTUALLY be used to help in a disaster. Nah. Cheaper to make the token donation, then exploit the disaster victims…”

  32. RandomHookup says:

    I can see it now:

    Director through megaphone: “Could I get the victims to smile more? And could we move that hot chick into the shot and maybe show a little more leg? And we need another small child in the scene, preferrably a dark-skinned one…”

  33. virgilstar says:

    So what? This is hardly a new approach to marketing.

    25 years ago in the UK, Ford was exploiting the fact that it’s Transit van (the most popular van in Europe) was used by various rescue authorities like ambulances, the AA (equivalent of the AAA in the US).

    Duracell does the same, claiming that fire and police departments use their batteries in flash-lights etc.

  34. Recury says:

    According to some retrospective on silent movies that was on TCM a week or two ago, this used to be common practice back when film companies didn’t have the means to simulate disasters with special effects.

  35. Indecision says:

    @virgilstar: “Duracell does the same, claiming that fire and police departments use their batteries in flash-lights etc.”

    Right, but Duracell doesn’t go out to actual fires and start handing out batteries, and I think that’s what some people are taking issue with.

    Incidentally, when Duracell says their batteries are used by hospitals/police/fire/etc, they’re not talking about the same batteries you buy in the store. They’re talking about the Procell line of batteries. Look for them online, they’re cheaper than retail batteries, and last longer.

  36. jmuskratt says:

    On the one hand, having lived through Katrina and its aftermath (and am still doing so), film crews and LR3s can be better than nothing.

    On the other hand, what happens when (not if) the film crew gets in more trouble than their $60,000 SUV can handle?

  37. hi says:

    The issue is they don’t care about the people in the disaster area. They only care that their car is being used so they can use it in an emotional ‘tear jerking’ commercial to ‘make people think they care’ so they can make profits. If they actually cared they would donate money regardless if their cars are there or not, and not make commericials about it.

  38. MandM813 says:


    LMAO, nice one! I love the commentors on this site, I am always guaranteed a laugh lol.

    Anyway, it is very exploitative. In the event of a natural disaster, making money should be the last thing on their mind. At least dont be so obvious about it!

  39. Trai_Dep says:

    What might be pretty neat is if they filled the Rovers with fairly well trained people who aid those in need. Then film it. Then contribute to a relief fun. All while making sure they don’t strain existing resources needed to help people.

    How close to this does the program come?

  40. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    This is ridiculous considering that no one buys a Land Rover for off-roading or for disaster preparedness. They should just shoot the commercial in a mall parking lot.

  41. capturedshadow says:

    Late last year I was helping out with the Tamiang Flood in North Sumatra (Indonesia). The North Sumatra Land Rover Club was there with a few older vehicles and they did do a pretty good job of distribution of emergency supplies to the hard to reach places. If Land Rover corporate decided to help those clubs with better funds and film them I think it would be beneficial.
    I have to say the Land Rovers were not any better than the Toyotas and Nissans that the UN and other agencies were using. The best vehicle as far as access to remote villages, was the German Agro Action’s UNIMOG. If it weren’t for the high fuel consumption I would take one of those over any Land Rover.

  42. snowferret says:

    Why would a soccermom NEED anything more than “a glorified grocery wagon” infact why woudl she need it to be glorified to begin with? Whats wrong with just havinga minivan?? This is why we have global warming and an oil crisis!
    Also are they going to be DOING anything with said landrover in natural disasters? Like helping with releif efforts? Or will they just film the poor saps being swept away as the Landrover overcomes the rushing floods? Also.. what if it doesn’t? do those ad-men know what they are getting into/getting those camera men into? Are they going to get danger pay for going into one natural disater after another?