For those of you that are still reading this and didn’t just close Caterham Life, turn off your computer and find something else to do after reading the opening sentence, it isn’t all bad news. You see, as the Marketing Manager here at Caterham I was quite heavily involved in the planning, preparation and launch of the SP/300.R and I’d like to give you a bit of an insight into what went on in the days and weeks leading up toAutosport. However, what I won’t do is talk about anything technical or business-related, as Ansar and Mark (our MD and Engineering Director respectively) will be covering these aspects in a series of articles in the coming months. No, what I’ll be looking at is all the funny little bits and bobs that nearly brought months of planning, countless sleepless nights and my state of employment crashing down…
Let me start with a question. How many of you noticed the carpet on our stand at Autosport? I’m sure my colleagues that were there the evening before “the big reveal” will be smiling as they read this. Just hours before the launch of the car, with the clock ticking and the small hours creeping up on us we had a carpet based fiasco of catastrophic proportions. I won’t bore you with the details, but it is amazing how it can seemso minor looking back on it. At the time I was genuinely wondering how I was going to explain to the gathered press and public who showed up for the launch exactly why we’d gone for the bare floorboards look. In my head I was going to slickly describe that the wooden floor was a metaphor for how we had stripped the design of the car back to the bare essentials before building it up to be a perfect synergy of only the most essential parts. Or something. Ultimately it all came good at the 11th hour and I was able to tear up the resignation letter I’d quickly written on an off-cut of laminate flooring and wearily go to bed looking at least 10 years older than I had done that morning.
Equally amusing for the gathered crowd were our attempts to move the car onto our exhibition stand. Sounds easy, but let me ask you this; How exactly do you move an as-yet unannounced car from a top secret room in the bowels of a factory and onto an exhibition stand without letting anyone snap it on a camera phone and post it online quicker than you can say “steal our thunder”?
The answer to this is that you need to have an immense amount of patience, the reactions of a ninja and a massive sense of humour. You see, we don’t launch many new cars and subsequently we don’t have a special department dedicated to manoeuvring cars with gigantic black cloths draped over them. It was amongst the most stressful 3 hours of my life, made worse by the countless advances of more or less every person working at the NEC who wanted to catch a glimpse and ask questions. Ultimately this was hugely flattering but at the time extraordinarily stressful.
There were many more incidents, problems, issues and far more serious events that we endured to successfully launch the car, but I’ll save them for a rainy day. A bit like a swan, on the surface we looked calm, almost serene in our efforts to successfully introduce the car, but believe me when I say that under the surface all hell was breaking loose!
I was probably pretty hard to work with for a couple of weeks, but I’m extremely proud to be part of the team here at Caterham who have created such an exciting new chapter in the Caterham story.
Here’s to the future. It’s going to be arriving very fast…
James Drake, Marketing Manager