Eldest daughter is currently away at university and working her way through a marketing module. As much of my work involves marketing, this has led to some interesting chats; one this week was on the Employee Promise, or People Promise.
For those who haven’t been on the job market in a while, a people promise is a relatively recent appearance and may be explained as what brands put together to assure jobseekers that their personal values and the company values align. It usually includes statements on inclusivity, respect and support of diversity, career development and talent retention, environmental responsibility and sustainability goals and aims to provide fun and fulfilling work for all.
Porsche sets out the bones of a people promise in its statement of Porsche corporate culture and values. “Our culture is defined by tradition and innovation. We live in a performance-oriented corporate culture and emphasise strongly the fair treatment of fellow employees. Our employees are driven by their passion for our extraordinary products. They sometimes think in unconventional ways, and this is something Porsche supports, because we value independence and individuality.”
This sort of language is often overused (just take a look at the fashion industry), but my experience across Porsche suggests that the company is pretty effective at driving this mindset down through the ranks. The brand is veined with impressions of inherent discipline and strong moral values, and being finely attuned to this comes with the territory. One downside to teutonic efficiency is the transmission of stiffness or arrogance: something Porsche and its dealers are often accused of.
Porsche Brand Ambassadors: Discipline
Discipline is a core value at Stuttgart and that is one driving factor in the appointment of brand ambassadors. Porsche relies on a number of ambassadors: the official ones come from the world of competition, where discipline, stamina and controlled aggression are major components in success. Looking at unofficial ambassadors, Porsche has also pulled in other less disciplined influencers who offer a congenerous narrative and an extensive follower count. This spread of personalities helps Porsche’s messaging to reach many more corners.
The most widely seen Porsche ambassadors are Mark Webber and Maria Sharapova. The handsome high achievers from the world of sport have many things in common, including all-important success, astuteness and a “humble roots” narrative that mirrors the company’s origins. We see the same “humble roots” narrative in the Magnus Walker story: a self-made media sensation, crossing cultures and generations. Porsche has previously hired Walker to draw in the crowds, but stopped short of sending an ambassadorial invitation.
Porsche Brand Ambassadors: Tennis
Tennis is a fertile recruitment arena for the Porsche ambassador army and ambassador press releases in the category of tennis outnumber all other sectors more than two to one. Germany’s Angelique Kerber (below) and Julia Görges both serve as tennis brand ambassadors alongside Sharapova.
As one would expect for a car manufacturer, many ambassadorial roles come from the world of motorsport, with Walter Röhrl, Jörg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard (below) all serving as ambassadors alongside Webber at the recent Cayman GTS launch. While this may seem quite a senior mix, most Porsche buyers are no spring chickens and it is not an easy task to identify a younger ambassador offering similar attractions to Webber and Sharapova, who would also bring cross-demographic appeal and have no pre-existing arrangements with other manufacturers.
Porsche Brand Ambassadors: Youth and YouTube
The Norwegian World Cup champion skiier, Aksel Lund Svindal, was recently appointed as a Porsche brand ambassador and currently feaures on several Porsche YouTube videos. YouTube is the online hub for so much skiing and showboarding content, so this may be one route to a (slightly) younger demographic. The Australian snowboarder, Torah Bright, is another who has enjoyed some exposure as a brand ambassador for Porsche Australia.
Porsche regional centres often bring in figures from the world of sport for local promotion and give them an ambassadorial title. Female racer, Esmee Hawkey, supported the launch of a new British Porsche centre last year and Porsche uses German actor, Richy Müller, as a regional ambassador. Former works drivers including Hans Stuck and Derek Bell often turn up at motorsport gatherings – Stuck was recently seen at the GP Ice Race – but Bell’s close associations with Bentley mean he is a more occasional appearance.
Porsche Brand Ambassadors: Celebrities
“Actors who want to go racing” has been one steady source of mainstream celebrity content and unofficial ambassadors for Porsche, including a Le Mans association with actor, Patrick Dempsey and the recent series of YouTube videos with actor, Michael Fassbender. Building a brand ambassador is a serious marketing investment, so pop stars and celebrities who may go out of fashion, vanish from the hit parade or be embroiled in a drug scandal overnight are notably less attractive for a company with core values of integrity and sustainability.
That said, scandals may not spell the end for Porsche brand ambassadors: Sharapova’s drug issues did not preclude a continued association with Stuttgart. Sharapova’s recent retirement announcement includes her intention to continue as a Porsche ambassador and her popularity in Russian and global high society is an important consideration. When it comes to brand ambassadors, some things rank higher than others (and we all make mistakes).
While its true that Porsche products are the company’s greatest ambassadors, the use of human brand ambassadors extends the reach of its media output. However, it is also worth remembering that everyone who drives a Porsche plays some small part in promoting the brand. Using confident, high achieving brand ambassadors may be one way to override any negative impression left by the guy in a Porsche who cut you up yesterday.
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