Owners of a Rolls-Royce from 2003 onward now have access to their own online community, Whispers, which connects them to content, experiences and products, as well as other owners and company employees. All owners are welcome to join, but if you sell your (only) Rolls you’ll have to give up your membership in the owners-only community.
More so than most other luxury brands Rolls-Royce is extremely engaged with their owners. They are brought in very early on in product development for vehicles and programs like Whispers. The brand forgoes most typical marketing/advertising efforts and instead focuses on hosting clients for exclusive get-togethers in major cities and at key events like the Concours d’Elégance in Pebble Beach or the Goodwood Revival in England (adjacent to the brand’s plant and offices).
The Whispers app—two and a half years in the making—provides owners with the kind of access you’d expect for sought-after events, restaurants and experiences, and products and accessories commissioned by Rolls-Royce. It also offers some things that not every concierge can arrange for you, such as a private audience with the Pope, creating your own racetrack, or walking the red carpet at the Met Gala. It also allows customers to create public profiles in the owners-only platform, allowing them to connect with likeminded people and, perhaps most interestingly, directly with Rolls-Royce employees, including its CEO, head of sales and marketing, and more.
As a marketing effort it seems likely to be a better return on investment than a generic sponsorship or ad. “Whispers is completely unique. It is a digital gateway to a fascinating world beyond, where the exceptional and the extraordinary come together and are tailored to meet the demands and tastes of our eclectic and highly valued community of clients,” Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, says. “Whispers offers transformative experiences, rare and desirable products, whimsical treasures and exclusive Rolls-Royce previews that are curated by Rolls-Royce and delivered directly to the fingertips of our global community.” He should know what customers desire, as he spends more time with them than most CEOs.
Currently the application features three tabs that represent editorial features and recommendations in key cities, tickets and passes to events otherwise inaccessible, and a hub for Rolls-Royce owners to engage with each other over shared interests or brand-related matters. The latter is part of an ongoing effort, helmed by Müller-Ötvös, to further tether the company’s decision-making processes to the opinions of their customers.
“It’s really about the storytelling, getting the inspiration. Whilst [Rolls-Royce owners] might have access to everything in the world, you might not think of certain things, and it requires someone to take you into this world and say, ‘Have you thought about this?'” Rolls-Royce director of sales and brand, Henrik Wilhemsmeyer, says. “It’s not the most obvious things you might think about, and even if you can afford to do so, you might not know how to do it or how to handle it. I think here we really bring value into it. It’s about networking—I think that’s an important element.” It’s also about time he says, acknowledging that most owners have more money than time to seek out the hottest restaurant or consider going to the South Pole for the ultimate selfie.
“It all started with that close contact with our clients,” Müller-Ötvös continues. “We learned that our customers love to be in contact with us. We love to be in contact, [too]. This is how this resource was born—something that allows us to remain in constant contact; something interesting, something exciting, something they have access to and no one else.”
As brands of all kinds recognize the power of storytelling, content, experiences, products, networking and access we’ll likely see more companies trying to create similar platforms for their customers, though perhaps without offering access to world-class polo lessons, creating your own blend of cognac, or a champagne or picnic set created for your Rolls-Royce.
Images courtesy of Rolls-Royce