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SNATCHING VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Oct 1, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Paris Hilton and Bentley's Arnage SNATCHING VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF A SPICY BBQ BURGER It's one thing to make all the right moves. It's another when you make a wrong move and have the moxie to turn it into a right move. There's no better example of this than what Volkswagen AG did with the Bentley brand. Flashback to 1998, when BMW and Volkswagen got into a bidding war to purchase Rolls Royce. Just when it looked like BMW sealed the deal to purchase Rolls Royce, VW made an offer that the Rolls Royce shareholders couldn't refuse. Unfortunately, VW's attorneys failed on the due diligence end. It appeared VW purchased the factory without obtaining the rights to the Rolls Royce name, which remained with BMW. To avoid a protracted legal battle, the two auto makers agreed to allow VW to own Rolls Royce until 2003. Thereafter, BMW would take over Rolls Royce ownership, while VW retained rights to the Bentley brand. Bentley and Rolls Royce would then go their separate ways. By all accounts, VW was on the losing end, having lost the coveted Rolls Royce ownership it sought. Or so it seemed. What ultimately developed was hard to predict. After the agreement between BMW and VW was struck, Volkswagen AG went hard at work to uplift the Bentley mark to a level it hasn't seen since its early years. First on the agenda was the development of the Continental GT. Second was to win the creme de la creme of auto racing: The 24 Hours of Le Mans. Bentley dominated Le Mans back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but effectively retired from the event thereafter. To come back and take the checkered flag would be an historic event, not to mention a monumental task. In 2003, however, Bentley made history by taking first and second at Le Mans. Thereafter, Bentley went back into retirement as the undefeated champion. The new Bentley Continental GT turned out to be a stunning design and a runaway sales success. In contrast, the new icebox-like Rolls Royce Phantom, introduced in 2003, has been met with a mixed reception and less-than-stellar sales. The Bentley brand has emerged from all of this at the top of the coolness pyramid, with rap artists, superstar sports figures and actors gravitating toward the brand. Rolls Royce, in the meantime, seems to be stuck with an old (albeit rich) people's car image. The most recent indicator that Bentley has become the "it" car comes in the form of the controversial Paris Hilton commercial for Carl's Jr. that first appeared this past summer. The fast food company used sex to sell its latest commodity, the Spicy BBQ Burger. That Carl's Jr. used Paris Hilton as its sales vehicle is understandable. Of significance is the vehicle that Ms. Hilton used as the object of her desire: A black Bentley Arnage. Thus, the transformation was complete. With the Bentley brand, Volkswagen snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. - Roy Nakano You can view the extended version of the Paris Hilton commercial at Spicy Paris This piece comes courty of our LA Car Blog.

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