Building British: The Lotus Brand

On 8 April over 60 delegates came together at Aston Business School to hear an inspirational lecture from Andreas Schlegel, Global Marketing Director for Lotus.  During this Leading Thinkers, Leading Visions guest lecture held in association with McCann Erickson, Andreas talked about what he considers to be the busiest year of his career so far, having been at Lotus for just fifteen months.
Andreas’ presentation told the story of how the Lotus brand once recognised as the equal of Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini, regained high profile when at the Paris motor show it unveiled not one, but five brand new models, thus hailing the renaissance of the brand.

To begin his presentation, Andreas gave an overview of the history of Lotus and explained how the values and character of the company founder Colin Chapman, who died in 1989 still have an enormous influence on the brand. 

Lotus, which is the fourth most successful brand in Formula 1, has a strong history of being an innovative company.  Lotus likes to challenge the rules; they produced the first Formula 1 car to have wings.  Andreas explained that as a smaller company Lotus is more agile and flexible.

Andreas Schlegel Lotus

The Challenge

Andreas gave an insight into the sales history of the company, highlighting the peak in sales during the 1960s. Andreas explained that the challenge for Lotus derives it essentially being a niche company operating in a niche market.  In taking the company forward Lotus did not want to abandon its roots, but at the same time wanted to open up to different segments. Lotus had to become more customer orientated and listen to what the market wanted.  They had to find out what customers thought of Lotus and what they thought of other competitor brands.  According to Andreas the vision for Lotus required opening up the brand to customers of competitor brands. 

Andreas went on to highlight some of the features that new Lotus models would need to have such as reduced CO2 emissions, more luxury features and an unparalleled driving experience.

The Journey

The Paris Motor Show in 2010 was to mark what Lotus termed the ‘dawn of a new era’.  Lotus was to unveil five new models in addition to variants of current models. Ahead of the launch Lotus had to carefully define its brand values. Lotus revised its corporate identity accordingly, and applied this to the stand at the Motorshow. 

Andreas explained how Lotus created some mystery ahead of the Motor Show by issuing a press release, backed up by a misled email, blogs and spy photos of just the existing models.  Lotus announced that they were to unveil five new models just prior to the show.  300-400 journalists turned up to the press day to witness the unveiling. 

Lotus held a VIP event at the Carousel de Louvre, open to 550 VIPs. As the event took place during Paris Fashion Week this theme was adopted for the event and the new models were unveiled on a catwalk.  Andreas also highlighted the huge amount of work behind the scenes that needed to be done to be ready for the launch, including a brand new website, new multilingual point of sale materials, a range of films and a lifestyle magazine. 

Andreas concluded by highlighting other areas that Lotus were investing in to further establish the brand, including customer experience programmes such as Customer Racing, Driving Academy and the Lotus Cup.  He also emphasised the importance of the dealer network and efforts to take the new corporate identity into the showroom through a new interim dealership facility. 

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Dean Lovett, John Edwards and Andreas Schlegel
Guest at the Lotus event
Guests at the Lotus event
Andreas Schlegel and Lotus Car

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