Fifteen years ago Gorillaz, the "virtual" band created by Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, released its first album. It sold millions of copies, was nominated for the 2001 Mercury Prize, and confirmed the world was ready for a band entirely made up of cartoon characters. It didn't hurt that "Clint Eastwood" was dope and the artwork was just as sick.
Now iconic British automaker Jaguar Land Rover has named the band's (totally fictional) Japanese guitarist Noodle as its new global brand ambassador, to connect with young people as the company plans to promote its role in shaping the future by aiming to help solve technology innovation and skills gap challenges.
Fiona Pargeter, Global PR Communications Director, Jaguar Land Rover says that by 2022 there will be a shortfall of 300,000 skilled engineers in the UK alone and it's part of the brand's responsibility to change that by inspiring young people. "As a business we recognize the importance of inspiring the next generation of engineers to help fill the global skills gap, but also raise awareness of the Jaguar brand and the FIA Formula E Championship," she says.
"To do this we wanted to work with a partner that would enable us to reach and engage a completely new audience. Our aim was to produce exciting and engaging content that would help us convince young people what a brilliant, inspiring, creative and diverse career engineering can be in today’s world."
And if picking a cartoon member of a band whose first album came out when most of the target audience was in diapers seems an odd choice, the brand points to the data on Gorillaz fans that tells another story. "Gorillaz have a huge global following and 42% of Gorillaz’ YouTube views are from 18-24 year olds, with key interests including science, technology, and video games," says Pargeter.