Being asked to help turn around fortunes of the Nissan GT-R in the UK was, perhaps, when a hobby becomes something more. As a founder and, for the first ten years, Chairman of the only officially recognised Nissan GT-R Car Club it still came as a surprise when I was asked to make a difference from a professional capacity.
Taking on the challenge of the Nissan GT-R programme was, certainly, a step change. Working alongside colleagues from Japan and in the UK retail division was a great opportunity and one that saw us stop the prevalence of discounting that was happening. Better trained salespeople, not in the product specifics but rather emotional purchasing, customer needs and desires. In 2019 the new NISMO and the GTR50 saw the programme was in good health.
Part way through the Nissan GT-R engagement I was asked to undertake a role at Alpine. An automotive brand since 1955 that had later been acquired and then cancelled by Renault. Now it was to come back in a multi-award winning new car fully of new build technology, some almost unique automotive design features and, above all a pursuit of enjoyment not just power.
Having secured top marks with the Grand Tour, Top Gear and almost every automotive journal; the challenge was to reach deeper into the knowledge sharing media and also branch out beyond pure automotive. Simply put, car buying enthusiasts may watch TV programmes but they also have their favourite bloggers. For the non-automotive enthusiast we had to find lifestyle publications keen to understand more about the Alpine and feature it as a lifestyle purchase not just a car.
Over 18 months we achieved some significant coverage with automotive bloggers, non-automotive magazines and key lifestyle events. Beyond that we engaged in a programme of working with local charity fund-raising balls. Attendees at these Black-tie events would see the car and could bid to win a long weekend's test drive. As well as targeting the right market we were giving people interested the chance to experience the car and, at the same time, helping support a number of charities.
The Alpine A110 is in rude health, with a six-month UK waiting list. The car has gone from a (re)start-up to a very successful car.