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Rolls-Royce - rolling online?
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  Rolls Royce
Rolls-Royce
rolling online?
by Mark Miller
June 1, 2009

Cruella de Vil had a long, red one in 101 Dalmatians. James Bond arch villain Auric Goldfinger had a stately golden one in the film that bears his name. The Rolls-Royce has been a symbol of wealth and nobility since it started pulling onto British highways back in the early 1900s.
 
Its stuffy, upper-class image is so ingrained in our culture that Kraft Foods’ Grey Poupon mustard has been dragging out its pompous Rolls-Royce passenger since the 1980s to ask innocent passersby if they happen to have any of the good stuff.

And while the website for Rolls-Royce does spend most of its pages portraying the brand as being a product for the most upper-crust and demanding customers, the site is also subtly working to show a few other sides of itself, such as how much Rolls is doing to keep the environment clean. It seems that in the current tough financial era for the car industry (and everybody else), such a high-priced item needs to appeal to all sorts of buyers and not just target the picky, extremely wealthy.

One of the most interesting elements of the brand is that it was purchased by the German company BMW in 1998 after having English owners since its inception. However, manufacturing remains for the most part at Goodwood on the southern coast of England, just across from the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit. There is an incentive for the company to present itself as being as English and high-end as possible. That British image is integral to the brand and was thought to be a source of pride for British residents for some time.

In 1967, for example, there was an attack on John Lennon’s recently painted psychedelic Rolls by an elderly woman in the streets of London. She supposedly banged the car, which was covered with painted swirls and flowers, with her umbrella and screamed, “You swine, you swine! How dare you do this to a Rolls-Royce.” The English image is kept up on the site with an area devoted to Goodwood and no obvious references to BMW.

The bulk of the site, which primarily uses muted gray lettering on stark black or white backgrounds, is dedicated to the cars themselves. Each contemporary Rolls-Royce gets a full-blown breakdown of interior, exterior, colors and trims, specifications, and dealers that have the car. Many images and videos populate this area as well as plenty of text to answer any question you could have on the vehicles themselves. This area in particular really helps the brand reach out to the many aspirational buyers who are becoming more and more a part of the car’s target market. Rolls-Royce is apparently becoming less of a brand that signifies high nobility and more of one that is about showing wealth off to others.

The most fascinating section of the site, titled “Creation,” shows how a Rolls-Royce is put together, breaking the construction down into 14 steps and featuring images and videos at many of them. The text goes out of its way, of course, to build up the “hand-built craftsmanship,” the “ingenious double-deck floor” the “best, A-grade quality” leather from a particular herd in Bavaria, and so on. There is such an abundance of self-loving adjectives here that it helps perpetuate the concept that the creation of each and every Rolls-Royce is somehow holy in its own way.

 
 
Rolls Royce The video and images throughout the site fit the brand: well done, beautifully designed and to the point. One could spend many hours flipping through the various images and watching the tons of videos throughout. Where they appear on the site, they are noted with simple icons of still and video cameras to the side of the text. When clicked, the icon moves smoothly to the center of the screen while the photo or video loads. The fluidity of the simple motion and technical adeptness inspire confidence in the brand.

A curious element to the site is that it offers two versions: one for those with broadband/cable access and one for those with modem access. The idea is quite nice, and both sites are lovely to look at (what else would you expect from a brand whose catchphrase is “Design without compromise”?), but it is strange to think that anyone who is even aspiring to purchase a Rolls-Royce doesn’t have access to a broadband connection. If you can shell out for a Rolls, surely you can shell out for Wi-Fi.

However you get onto the automaker’s site, it is a pleasure to look at and thus effective in showing the purely aesthetic value of considering a Rolls the next time anybody—well, any wealthy person—needs to get a new vehicle.

 

Mark J. Miller writes a daily sports column for Yahoo! Sports and is a contributing writer to Crain's BtoB's Media Business magazine. His work has appeared in National Geographic Adventure, ESPN, The Washington Post, Salon.com, I.D., and Glamour, among others.

*Due to the constantly changing environment of websites, some reviews may no longer reflect the current website for this brand.
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Rolls-Royce - rolling online?
 
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