July 1, 2011

Harold Burson's Blog

Of all Brands: Rolls-Royce

Posted By Harold Burson

In its daily news summary, PR Week (June 20, 2011) reported that "Rolls-Royce Motor Cars of North America is issuing an RFP in mid-July for the first time in its history."

How unbecoming!

Sort of like walking into a Rolls-Royce showroom and bickering over the price. Admittedly, never having been in a Rolls-Royce showroom, I don’t really know what goes on between buyer and seller. But my image of Rolls Royce is that the buyer wants top-of-line and is willing to fork over what it takes to get it.

I would have thought the same of Rolls-Royce as a buyer of services: that it would (discreetly) seek out the public relations firm it considered best for maintaining the status of its priceless brand and expect to pay what it takes to get that kind of service.

Instead, the company will conduct the near-equivalent of a public auction. It may result in a lower price and even acceptable quality service – but at what cost to its pristine brand.

Reminds me of the story of a rich, but brash, young American who was trying to impress his titled English lady-friend with his newly acquired wealth. When jewels, a chartered yacht exploring the Greek-islands and an invitation to join him in climbing K-2 failed, he showed up at her family’s estate in a newly-purchased most expensive Rolls Royce.

After about ten minutes, hearing no comment from his up-scale companion on his new tour de force automobile, the young American remarked "I suppose you have ridden many times in a Rolls-Royce."

"Yes," she replied, "many, many times, but never in the front seat."

A response something like Rolls-Royce putting out an RFP.

Harold Burson

July 20, 2011