On reflection, I think we all (my agency, Rolls Royce, and evidently, the winning agency) made the mistake of resting upon stereotypes of who the super-rich are, how they think and live.
As one charming super-rich gentleman expressed it in Michael Gilding’s book ‘Secrets of the Rich’, “It’s my fucking money, I’ve earned it, and they can kiss my arse”.
Unfortunately, DM agencies interpret this as if the rich guy is saying ‘suck up to me, and I’ll buy your product’. This inevitably leads to the cliché, patronising and sycophantic DM approaches of which we see so many in the 'exclusive' sector. At best, such sentiment disinterests the super-rich and, at worst, repels them to their nearest Ferrari dealership.
I think what the charming gentlemen was actually saying is that the super-rich detest being pursued by people whose obvious objective is to relieve them of some of their wealth. They’ve spent their adult lives pursuing a gut feeling that turned out to be right, a gap in the market that noone else saw, for which they have been (and continue to be) massively rewarded. They were right, others were wrong. And now, it’s those others’ turns to do the right thing, to genuinely earn their respect and, ultimately, their patronage.
Having said that, as marketers we have to start somewhere. After all, if the super-rich aren’t going to buy Rolls Royces, then certainly no one else is. So, one way or another, we have to engage them. But who is ‘them’?
Forget the old money, now trendily known as multi-generational wealth families. Quite literally, the richest vein to tap, is the one in which the nouveau riche flow, or more accurately, gush.
There are two types of nouveaux: existing, and prospects. And it’s les prospects-nouveaux, who I believe offer the most interesting opportunities.
Picture this. You live on a council estate in Tower Hamlets. You have the ability to kick a football around like Wayne Rooney, or to rap like Dizzee Rascal, and in the space of a few months, you’re plucked from obscurity, and plunged into wealth. Now, instead of gouging a key into the side panels of some toff’s poncy motor (or robbing pizza delivery men, as Mr Rascal did), you’re suddenly in the position where you can afford that motor, and several others like it, if you choose.
You’re newly rich, with decisions to take, and they’re as urgent as those faced by the freshly bankrupted. What kind of rich person do you want to be? Flamboyant? Or inconspicuous? Where do you want to live? Kensington? Or Weybridge? What car do you want to drive? Bugatti Veyron? Or Rolls Royce Phantom?
At this foetal stage of your wealth or fame, you are vulnerable to death by a thousand spongers. You need company, and companies, you can trust.
That’s why I think Rolls would be wise to target the deprived venues, such as council estates. To invest some time there. Maybe even some serious money. After all, that’s where many of the next generation of self-made men, footballers, pop stars and drug barons (well, it’s all money, isn’t it?) are coming from.
Rolls are the old money, on whom the freshly rich can rely, from whom they can obtain guidance, mentorship and, of course, cars.