Theme: Advertising – Rover’s RIME EEF.

It was the year 2000 and according to the predictions from 1970 we’d have been traveling on hover-speeders and wearing metallic-nylon bodysuits. Somehow that didn’t pan out. For Rover, it was still 1959 though.

2000 Rover 45 2.0 V6
2000 Rover 45 2.0 V6 print ad.

For your education and general knowledge, today’s item on advertising is an example of exploiting the customer’s worst instincts and distracting them from the selling point. This was done not only by the form of the ad as conceived, but simply by ensuring the message was concealed by the centre fold of the magazine. ‘Rime eef’, it reads.

In the ad – admittedly it’s technically well done – a Rover 45 is placed on a polystyrene tray, wrapped in cellophane and labelled 100% Prime Beef. There’s a Union Flag to make the point – this is British and not, for example, German. The advert dates from May. Rover was still owned by BMW, just. The sell off was in train at the time of press.

The Rover 45 had been relaunched at the start of the year and the new versions were styled to draw on the Rover cues of Englishness, tradition, chrome and leather. The pity here is that in emphasizing the car’s Britishness, its John Bull beefy wholesomeness, they smothered the key feature of the car: it had a 2.0 V6 engine serving up 155 bhp. Among the class of mainstream V6 saloons, it was the cheapest by a good several thousand pounds. This was a real sales proposition that could be backed up by fact. The resultant car was also rated for being nicely refined and a pleasant vehicle to own so there was substance in the concept.

What ought to have been a strategically helpful ad to remind buyers of the Rover 45’s key attributes turned out to be a distracting gimmick. For those unconvinced of Rover’s bloodline, the fact the 45 was derived from Rover 400 and the Honda Civic before that could not be forgotten. And for those who liked Rover anyway, it was the 2.0 V6 and refined ride that were going to be selling points. Rover ought to have been spelling that out loudly as the reason not to go for a Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot or Citroen. Instead this data is hidden in the corner in nearly illegible grey text on a greyish background.


It’s been 14 years since I last did any serious thinking about the Rover 45. Even if I reckon the Ford Focus is in every measurable way a better car, I can’t help feeling a warm regard towards Rover’s attempt to put V6 power into a lower-medium sized car. If you squint it offers up a mini-Jaguar experience that only the X-type (yet to come) was going to top.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

8 thoughts on “Theme: Advertising – Rover’s RIME EEF.”

  1. A shrink wrapped illustration of the reasons for Rover’s demise. I’m guessing this inept and amateurish ad comes from just after the car boot sale of Rover to Phoenix but, either way, it underlines what well-meaning but poor stewards BMW were to Rover. The products they allowed to be released encouraged stuff like this that plays on them being a heritage brand, the problem being that, by then, being ‘British’ didn’t really have any cachet to a broader market, and even the members of the stereotyped demographic this ad’s creators had in mind are typically pragmatic in their choice of cars – the UKIP sticker plastered car I passed on Wednesday was a Volvo. Imagine a BMW 5 Series being sold as a pack of Weisswurst. And clever to alienate all those patriotic vegetarians. Of course there’s the Roaste Beefe of Ye Olde Englande connection here, but maybe they should have made it pork to turn off even more people.

    It’s sad that beneath the skin these were pretty good cars, but I still couldn’t have one, even a tempting V6. I saw a metallic green 75 yesterday and though it looked quite Bentley Seraph like in its solidity, so I do understand that someone at Rover had the germ of an idea of how to create a niche. But the old-fashioned smugness of an old-fashioned Bentley works because it conjures up the image of a Georgian country house, whereas the Rover conjures up a Georgian Facaded Barratt Home.

    1. Richard. Apologies for not reading your piece fully. It comes from just before the sale? But probably no-one from BMW cared any more by then.

  2. They missed a simple trick: the showroom number plate that reads ‘Rover V6’. Or they could have added a promotional sticker on the packaging: ‘V6! 27.5% more power!”…

    1. Turn the opposition to mincemeat
      Hot without horseradish
      *applies to Phoenix shareholders only

  3. Of course there are more and less subtle ways to explain the selling point. This ad had no gravitas at all. Vauxhall have also been poor at this as well. I suppose I mean this ad has the tone of a Nova special edition promotion.

  4. Thanks. It is odd how these things get picked up again after a random interval. I like to think it’s a matter in this case of Rover 45 afficionadoes heatedly discussing the V6’s place in the scheme of things. It’s a pity it turned up when it did as it might have been a surprise hit if people were clear on what they were getting for their cash. Does anyone have insight on actual sales?

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