Cars and brand extension

Updated: Dec 2 2013, 02:05am hrs
Last week, iconic sportscar manufacturer Maserati announced a tie-up with another iconic brand, Zegna, to bring out a limited-edition line of menswear. The Zegna-Maserati product line will include T-shirts, polos, jerseys and pants, a spin-off from the yachting gear that the VOR 70 Maserati team wears. The collection will go on sale in January 2014. According to Ermenegildo Zegna, the two luxury brands are also working on the all-new Quattroporte Zegna limited-edition. Only 100 of the cars will be produced, and all buyers will be given accessories made by the fashion company. Its merely the latest example of a growing trend, where car manufacturers are extending their product rangeand revenue streamsby tying up with big global fashion brands. This involves almost every big auto company, from Ferrari, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, BMW and others. From fashion wear, they have now expanded into home decor. Bentley has partnered with Luxury Living Group, an Italy-based maker and distributor of high-end furniture, to offer state-of-the-art, heirloom-quality furniture. The Bentley Home Collection, as it is called, retails modern furniture suitable for residential interiors, yachts, private jets and boardrooms. The entire line will be unveiled in January 2014 at Paris Maison et Objet International. Thereafter, the collection will be represented at Luxury Living retail showrooms in Paris, Italy and the US. The English luxury car manufacturer already has a collaboration with Swiss watch brand Breitling, wherein they launched the Breitling for Bentley collection, a model based on Bentleys five-spoke wheel. Last month, Bentley started selling $5,500-handbags from its own line of leather products.

For many auto companies, using the strength of the brand to market their own fashion lines was one of the earlier trends in brand extension, and it continues to this day. Last month, Bugatti unveiled an exclusive apparel and accessories collection at Milan Fashion Week consisting of two lines, Ettore Bugatti, carrying an EB monogram, and Extreme Performance, carrying the Bugatti logo. Included in the collection are crocodile-skin handbags for women, inspired by Bugattis front grille. Bugatti will open as many as 35 exclusive boutiques around the globe in the next five years, where tailor-made/bespoke products for Bugatti owners will be custom-created to a customers specifications.

Ferrari is a lap ahead in the collaboration race, with products ranging from fashion, golf, Mattel scale models and Barbie, Lego, Acer notebooks, Vertu cellphones and now Apple products. They have 28 branded stores around the world and a website selling merchandise such as Ferrari-branded clothing, watches, briefcases, stationery and model cars, so much so that some would suggest that Ferrari makes more money on merchandise than it does selling cars. They have tied up with Puma for an F1 collection that includes footwear, polo tees and accessories like bags. The deal with Puma includes Cobra Puma Golf, primarily, a revolutionary driver golf club, which comes with a hand-stitched leather grip and Ferrari head cover. Ferraris new FF supercar showcases its latest tie-up with Apple. The new car has Siri integration and two iPad Minis behind the front-seat headrests, which double as an entertainment unit for the rear passengers. It already markets cases for the iPad and iPhone. Ferrari already has a collaboration with Vertu phonesthe Vertu Ti Ferrari limited-edition mobile phone. This apart, Ferraris official product line includes a clothing range for children, accessories, scale models and the exclusive Memorabilia section devoted to F1 and GT automobiles. Ferrari also has the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari tourbillon targeted at Chinese buyers. Only 20 pieces have been made and the watch uses the exact same carbon fibre used in Ferrari F1 cars with the unique chequered pattern along the body. It was launched on the 20th anniversary of Ferrari in China. Ferrari also worked with British audio company Logic3 and launched Ferrari by Logic3. The collection comprises a range of earphones, headphones and speaker docks that represent Ferraris unique designs and colours. Their most ambitious brand extension, however, is Ferrari World, the huge theme park complex in Abu Dhabi near the F1 race track.

Another racing legend, McLaren, has several clothing ranges, including one in collaboration with Hugo Boss, while another Italian sportscar manufacturer, Lamborghini, has a line of carbon-fibre luggage that bears its name. Meanwhile, BMW Group Designworks and mobile company ADAIA recently announced a partnership that will bring BMW enthusiasts a brand-new cellphone. BMW already retails Yachtsport in collaboration with Henri Lloyd, the renowned sailing clothes manufacturer. BMW Golf and BMW Championship lines include apparel, accessories and more from Peter Millar, Greg Norman, Adidas, Nike, OGIO, Titleist and Zero Restriction. The BMW Chronograph timepiece, with a brushed stainless steel case and an anthracite dial, is produced by Tourneau exclusively for BMW.

Where BMW is, can Mercedes be far behind Mercedes has a tie-up with luxury menswear brand Spencer Hart and recently partnered with Bang & Olufsen for the BeoSound AMG Surround System. There is a Mercedes-Benz furniture line designed by Formitalia and a bike in collaboration with Rotwild, the R.X45 AMG, apart from the usual clothing and accessories line. This year, at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class automobile was featured, but the event also highlighted The House of Mercedes-Benz, a full-fledged fashion boutique, which had such exclusive items as the Shwood for Mercedes-Benz Sunglass Collection, a limited-edition collection of wooden eyewear inspired by the wood accompaniments featured in the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The third German automaker in the mix, Audi, has a tie-up with Bosendorfer, the renowned Austrian piano maker. The Bosendorfer Grand by Audi design is a high-end concert grand piano and carries the Audi rings. Then there are the top-of-the-line skis, also developed by Audi Concept Design in Munich. The carbon ski design combines the best of technology from motorsports and winter sports industries, and was developed in collaboration with sportswear brand Head and the German Ski Association.

Porsche Design is well-established in a variety of products, including a limited edition of Johnie Walker Black label, as well as the Blue private bar, made with brushed-finished titanium and leather used in Porsche cars. It is literally raising the bar with its latest venture, high-rise apartments in Miami with glass elevators, which take your Porsche right up to your apartment. In fact, that is literally dwarfed by Volkswagenwhich owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen carswhich has built an entire Autostadt (Car City) in Wolfsburg, its headquarters. The city combines design, art, architecture and science, and is built on 25 hectares of rolling hills and lakes. The project also features a tie-up with Ritz Carlton hotels. Porsche Design Studio has also created the worlds largest outdoor LED TV targeted at those who wish to watch movies outdoors. Porsche also launched a women's fashion line in 2009 and came out with a handbag earlier this year, which was promoted by tennis pro Maria Sharapova.

Tata-owned Land Rover was an early convert to the brand extension game. In June 2004, Land Rover released a range of bicycles to complement its automotive range in collaboration with an established bicycle manufacturer and, along with Jaguar, markets its own range of outdoor gear. It has recently hired Victoria Beckham as creative head to design a fashion range. Elsewhere, luxury watch maker Mobiado joined hands with British luxury car maker Aston Martin to create a synergy of style and technology with a new mobile handset series. Using exotic metals like yellow gold and platinum, these handsets were created keeping in mind the styling quotient of the Aston Martin cars, and even used the watch-making technology by fitting in two mechanical watches in each of the handsets.

Other car gear includes the joint venture between luggage bag manufacturers Tumi and BMWs Mini-Cooper for a limited-edition series of Mini Cooper cars, made in a station-wagon design, which gives travellers the extra space needed to store their baggage in. Basically, car manufacturers lending their name to lifestyle products is designed to widen the brands appeal and put it into a higher gear in revenue terms.