There's always a danger of car-based documentaries becoming the extended version of a 30-second TV commercial. Thankfully this isn't one of them.
If you've got a history that is as spotty (pun intended) as Jaguar's, it's a hard pill to swallow if the writers of "Driving Dreams: Jaguar" came up with a 40-minute homage to the tottering British marque without reference to the realities of today's automobile market.
Thanks to the "Inconvenient Truth" of increasing petrol pump prices, car-buyers are looking toward better fuel-efficiency. So, what is a luxury carmaker to do? Without giving away the plot, it's safe to say that hybrid technology isn't on the Jaguar radar.
Still, watch out for a cameo by the electrifying Tesla roadster that goes from 0 ? 60mph in 4 seconds but produces zero carbon emission (it's electric!).
HERITAGE: BLESSING OR CURSE
Originally founded by William Lyons and William Walmsley as the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, the Jaguar brand first emerged in 1935.
But since its heyday in the 1960s, with the classic 1961 Jaguar E-type arguably the most beautiful car the company has ever produced, the luxury brand has gone through some brutal times in the '70s and '80s.
A takeover from Ford in 1989 for US$2.5 billion arrived as a mixed blessing, bailing it out of serious financial trouble, but sinking it into a new level of design mediocrity.
After an estimated US$10 billion worth of investment from parent company, Ford, Jaguar looks to have turned the corner with the launch of its new XK sports car, which is where this documentary begins.
But with a rich heritage, or baggage, depending on how you view the company's long history, the challenge and focus of the documentary is in appealing to the younger set, instead of silver-haired men at the golf club. Jaguar's designated marketing agency, RSCG Fuel, thinks the answer is a sophisticated yet simple marketing campaign dubbed "Gorgeous".
If you're curious as to what the TV ads look like, think random beautiful people at play, soft focus, exotic locales, or in other words, what most other luxury product ads look like. The campaign has been praised, as well as panned for its approach to selling the XK, but I'll leave you to make up your own mind.
Jaguar's Design Chief, Ian Callum, is unapologetic in calling the appeal of the Jag an 'irrational desire', simply because it's not the fastest or the most powerful, but because of the sheer way it looks that makes you want it. And it's this visual lure to people who can afford these exquisite (and expensive) cars, that the Jaguar team wants to infuse in its new line-up.
Perhaps Peter York, a UK social commentator and brand consultant, put it best: "There's something of a beautiful woman that Jaguars look (like), and for quite a long time, they've been shy about it. ... Instead of saying 'It's gorgeous, don't you want it?'"
WATCH THE TRAILER
Driving Dreams: Jaguar airs 20th July, Friday, at 7pm on the National Geographic Channel (Ch 11 on Starhub Cable TV). Repeat telecasts: 28th July, Saturday, at 12am & 14th August, Tuesday, at 7pm