A Drive Down Memory Lane: The Last Overland
In early 2019, we took on a challenge like no other. Motivated simply by our strong belief in the project, we started telling the story of The Last Overland, an expedition from Singapore to London.
Our communications campaign started at the very beginning by helping to attract the sponsors needed to fund the journey, and it continued throughout the planning stages, and on the course of the journey by running the expedition’s communications operation while on the road.
It is not every day that an agency has the opportunity to turn a concept into a pan-Southeast Asia campaign that goes on to capture imagination of the world’s media. But this is exactly what we did with The Last Overland, resulting in the expedition being featured on almost two hundred media platforms across at least 26 countries. Not bad for a campaign fuelled not by money, but by shared values, enthusiasm and a spirit of adventure.
Getting On Board
The Last Overland expedition embodied many of the values we pride ourselves on: an international outlook, boldness in execution, a sense of adventure, and the ability to thrive in complex, fast-changing environments. Naturally, we jumped at the chance to support with only one condition: A seat in the car.
Starting the Engine
The purpose of The Last Overland was to journey 16,000km from Singapore to London over land in ‘Oxford’ the Land Rover, a recreation in reverse of the first ever, and historic, First Overland expedition of 1955. The twist was that one of the original team members, Tim Slessor – now in his eighties – would be doing the journey again, in the same car.
We helped to build a compelling story around the recreation of the journey, leveraging on Tim Slessor’s personal experience and his extraordinary determination to do the drive again, as well as the magnetic appeal of such a historic car. This allowed us to capture both mainstream and motoring audiences – through specialist interest, mainstream and social media – global, regional and national media publications. On 30 May 2019, ‘Oxford’ was unveiled amid much fanfare for the first time since its restoration, and by the time it flagged off at the Singapore F1 pit lane three months later, numerous sponsors were on board, including Jaguar Land Rover, Singapore Tourism Board and Revolut.
Keeping the Wheels Moving
On the day of flag-off, the star of the show, Tim Slessor was taken ill in his Singapore hotel. He would not be able to set off on the journey. The whole story we had created had run off the road before the journey had even begun. With the flag-off event already underway, the agency worked with the expedition team to create and control a new narrative, pivoting the story to the fact Tim Slessor’s grandson, Nat George, would be flying the flag for him on the journey, driving in his grandfather’s tyre tracks. We unveiled Nat at a hastily convened press conference and the dramatic twist was widely embraced by the media.
Going the Extra Mile
The most unique element of this was the fact that this support was provided on the road, with members of the Klareco team providing media support all the way through Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. We provided on-the-ground PR support, using the back of “Oxford” the Land Rover as our official office-on-the-road. Not only was this a brilliant opportunity to be fully immersed in the experience, it also gave the team first-hand insight into what was actually happening and, therefore, how to communicate it with the right tone, messaging and proof points.
Along the way we provided strategic communications advice, media relations and event support, coordination and liaison with sponsors and partners, and acted as a point of contact for Southeast Asia and international media. This continued remotely once the Southeast leg was complete and the agency team headed home.
Crossing the Finish Line
By the time Oxford arrived in London on 14 December 2019, the campaign had achieved unprecedented results – at least 250 pieces of coverage across more than 197 media platforms, including local news dailies, motoring publications, radio, Land Rover interest magazines, blogs and interest group pages, in over 14 languages across 26 countries and regions including Singapore, Southeast Asia, China, UK, US, European countries, Eastern Europe, India, in both print and digital media.
This project, that was born from a desire to do compelling work for likeminded partners resulted in Klareco Communications being awarded a Silver Stevie Award for Innovation in Public Affairs Communications in the 2020 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards. We could not be more proud of the team for taking hold of the steering wheel and driving this expedition into the limelight across the world.