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Somewhere in the desert between America and Mexico. An endless black asphalt snake slithering through an intimidating vastness of brown, dry, merciless mountains. On the snake, in the distance, a car on the move. You can see (and somehow feel) the heat, the sun shimmering on the desert street. Suddenly, a man (or woman?) with a black motorbike helmet, steps out of the shadow of a rock prominence, observing the (now revealed: red sports) car. Screeching dirt-bike tires, a blinding smoke of sand, the motorbike drives head-on towards the sports car, at the last minute avoiding a collision. Bike and rider slide along the asphalt, bringing the car to a halt, and its driver to get out of the vehicle and check the seemingly unconscious biker’s wellbeing. BANG! The biker grabs the sports car driver and …

“One man. One job. But in the desert, nothing is simple.”

That’s what the video’s subline says.

It is nowhere, I’d say. But certainly nothing is what it seems in this very intelligent, bold and entertaining piece of corporate advertising about a man driving a very desirable convertible sports vehicle through the desert towards Mexico, meeting a beautiful woman who jumps into his car on the escape from her kind of choleric, overly protective, gun-loving, probably violent drug cartel boss husband. Who in the end catches up with them, and then …

Before we go on, you should enjoy the piece, and don’t let the length discourage you, it’s worth every second:

So what makes this piece of moving image that Jaguar had produce for the launch of its new F-TYPE sports car called “Desire” a true, well-told story? A story you (or at least I) desperately want to follow to the end – despite its epic 13:24 minutes (for me great counter evidence of the alledged commandment of brevity for content on the web)?

And to take the wind out of all those whining marketers’ “we don’t have enough budget” sails: It’s NOT the fact that it’s a Ridley Scott Associates production. It’s NOT the fact that it has Golden Globe winning actor Damian Lewis as well as Shannyn Sossamon and Jordi Mollà performing brilliantly in this film. And it’s NOT the great score including a song by BRIT award winner Lana Del Ray. Granted, it may help to have someone direct your advertising who knows his craft as a storyteller, but being good is not a question of budget.

For me, the following points make “Desire” a good story – or a story at all:

  1. Plain and simple: It has a PLOT. Aka something is happening, something changing for the better or worse. On the broad scale of the overall almost quarter hour drama (“Man to deliver luxury car to wealthy client somewhere in the Mexican boondocks”), as well as in many micro-dramas along the way, e.g.: biker seizing car driver; woman hijacking car and driver; driver realizes the man he is supposed to deliver the car to is the man trying to kill him; the driver’s decision, not to deliver, but to help the escaping women; and so on, and so on.
  2. It plays with the essential ingredients of story in the classical way that every great film, book or speech ever created does: EXPECTATION and SURPRISE. You want to know how the story ends! A story which simply is fun, not only because there’s lots of action scenes (which we men love), and some maternal-drama-meets-forbidden-love elements (which woman love, and men, too, c’mon, be honest, guys!), some nice grains of British humor lightening the tension between the protagonists, very well supported by a great musical score). But mainly because you want to know what happens next, and next, and next, and in the end. So, in a classical action-meets-love-story way, in terms of storytelling: nothing novel, not much innovation. But: In the respect of consequently integrating this into business storytelling and product adverising: indeed innovative. And intelligent.
  3. Speaking of intelligence: I recently wrote, and would stick to this over and over again, that nothing is more boring for the recipient of a piece of business communications than a bleeding list of product features, benefits and what have you. But this film quite impressively shows us that, if you intelligently weave your “corporate messages”, your product’s miraculous features into a story: it can work and even be fun to listen to them. And, most importantly: You believe them! I mean, can it get any better than from minute 09:30 to 10:55? You (or at least I) actually believe Mr. Martinez when he says: “Now that’s a good car!” Within the plot, it does indeed seem credible that this paranoid mad man would detour from the most suspense-packed part of the story, the live-or-die, keep-or-lose-wife climax, by asking for the features of the car he ordered. The story stops for advertising, which you hardly notice at first, and when you notice, you like it, you bow your head and think: “Damn, if I could afford it, I’d go right out there and buy me one!” Or at least I do. 😉

So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Why?

In any case: I’m happy to see you again soon, here, where the story goes on … soon.