Like most people willing to listen to me talk about cars for more than 15 seconds, I have a sort of irrational affection for Land Rover. They’re extremely capable machines in extreme environments and kind of ridiculous to use in civilisation, well, at least the old ones were, but they’re full of rugged, unpolished charm. That general sense of capable absurdity is well-reflected in one of my favourite Land Rover marketing ideas: in 2012, they made a promotional survival guide that you could eat. And I want to eat one.
It’s such a wonderfully ridiculous over-the-top-idea, something that feeds into the deep-set and mildly perverse peril-fetishism of anyone who drives a Land Rover. If you were driving a Defender back in 2012, fighting with the wheel to keep the thing tracking straight on a smooth road, or performing an exhausting 17-point turn in some parking lot because it’s got the same turning circle as a locomotive, part of you would also be thinking how you’re ok with this, because if a meteor hits right next to you or a sinkhole opens up and colossal mole-lizards come pouring out, you and your Defender will be the only ones to survive.
An edible survival guide, kept in the car with the hope/dread that you may one day need to use it, fits this mentality perfectly.
The book was made by the United Arab Emirates branch of the Y&R advertising firm, and was described by them like this:
While Land Rover vehicles can take on any obstacles in the desert, it cannot be said the same of their owners. Scorching temperatures, deadly animals and sinkholes are just a few things they might encounter. And when they venture deep into it, even the most experienced drivers can quickly succumb to the harshness of the desert. We wanted to create something that would cut through the clutter and that these people would like to keep.
So we created a survival guide, which explained the basics for staying alive in the Arabian Desert, and packaged it in a way that would spur the attention of our target audience. We researched every indigenous animal and plant, people could encounter in the Arabian Desert and how they could be used to survive. We studied the topography of the region to guide people to safety.
We used a reflective packaging similar to army rations, which could be used to signal for help, and bound the book with a metal spiral, which could be used for cooking. Finally, we even took an extra step so that in case of emergency, people could always EAT the book. It was made out of edible ink and paper, and it had a nutritional value close to that of a cheeseburger. We sent the book to 5,000 existing customers, gave it away as a supplement to the cars’ manual and made it freely available in sports shops.
The initial response was very positive. And the client was so happy with the concept that they asked us to include the book as an insert in the next edition of a car magazine, with a 70,000 circulation.
So, it looks like 5,000 were sent to owners, and it seems 70,000 more were included with that un-named Arabic-market car magazine? There’s got to be some left out there, right?
I reached out to Land Rover, but was told they didn’t have any. I haven’t found any on eBay, at least not yet, so I’m putting the call out: Does anyone have one of these?
If so, I really want to make a video of eating one, describing the no-doubt novel culinary experience of eating a whole little book. I’m deeply curious, and I suspect many are as well, which is why I think this video needs to be made.
So, if you have one and are willing to part with it, please let us know. A donation in the name of science would be great, but I’m willing to try and get the bosses to make some funds available if need be.
I just want to eat a book published by a carmaker on camera. Is that too much to ask?