Ferrari Knickers?

Cars Culture

brand extension gone bonkers...

No, we’ve not gone all Dada-ist this mad March. 

It’s just that brand extension amongst the culture of hi-end automotive retail has reached ridiculous proportions. Bentley, in fact have a number of answers to the question ‘what is the smell of Bentley? And the latest aroma is just a tiny, musky smelling tip of the iceberg. Top marques from every corner of the culture are going mental in the world of brand extension. It’s just one of the ways they can keep the lucre rolling in.


Anyone who has cast an eye on the breadth of car and motorbike culture must have noticed that automotive branding has been used to flog everything from swimming trunks to tote bags. In fact, I spotted a pair of Lamborghini budgie smugglers on the beach in Rimini a few years ago – and somehow it just seemed, well, natural.

The mainstream press, in fact, seem reluctant to accept something that we have intuited for years – that cars and motorcycles are in idea as much as three dimensional pieces of industrial design.

And Ferrari, of course, despite the fact that it only sells a maximum of 7,000 cars in any given year, and whose order books are perpetually full, is far from immune to what might be seen as less-than-laudable brand extension.


According to the New York Times Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat Chrysler, which owns Ferrari, called cars ‘almost incidental’ to Ferrari when announcing plans to spin it off from its parent.

“It sounds sacrilegious, but it is truly a luxury brand,” he is quoted as saying.

The implication of all this is that, like Apple, Ferrari increasingly sees itself as a luxury brand rather than simply a manufacturer of incredible cars.

You’ve seen Ferrari fans everywhere rocking the Rosso and the prancing horse logo in a dizzying number of contexts. And according to research the prancing horse has, as many as 68 legitimate licenses as well as 30 brand stores in 14 countries.

Figures suggest that, with $2.6 billion in annual sales of licensed merchandise, Ferrari turns a far greater profit selling merch than creating cars. Of course, some of the merchandise makes sense. Driving gloves, shoes etc. Even watches and leather goods chime true. But pants? We can’t quite believe this is a legit license, but you can buy them here.

But to be fair to Ferrari who knows how many license breaches there are out there (no pun intended)?

But whatever you feel about our totemic marques hawking the idea of themselves like a street corner floozy – it’s more grist to the mill of independent customisers wanting to re-imagine cars and bikes in their own image.

Independent will always be cooler than corporate. But they won’t make nearly as much money from our dreams.