Since the release of the movie Born Free in 1966, there was a unique connection between Landrover and Born Free. Landrover Defenders were heavily featured throughout the movie. However, the first time the charity approached Land Rover for a partnership was in 2002. Land Rover donated branded vehicles for field projects rescuing animals in Africa, India a for their education work in the UK. Ten years on Born Free believed there was much more potential. It was time for a renewed, powerful and more strategic alignment.
Helen Usher was instrumental in leading discussions to drive a more long-term strategic charity partnership. The focus was upon making Landrover the hero as it had been positioned all those years ago in the film. In 2013, Born Free secured a global partnership with Landrover for five years. The partnership focused on the charity’s work with lions in Africa and tigers in India, whilst enhancing Landrover’s commitment to global sustainability. Following this success, Helen became the lead on driving the partnership forward.
The five-year partnership was cause for celebration. It secured long-term income for the Born Free, extra vehicles for animal rescue and global promotion of the charity’s work.
Key highlights included Landrover’s support with the safe transportation of rescued lions and bears from zoos in Europe, and rescuing cheetahs from the destructive live animal trade. There were celebrity visits a-plenty to overseas project work and animal rescue missions, which received substantial media coverage. Helen also led innovative staff engagement opportunities including a very successful fundraising drive throughout the 114 dealership branches in the UK, which raised £60,000. The most dedicated fundraiser within the competition was gifted a life-changing visit to Born Free’s our community support project in Kenya.
One unforgettable moment was a secret ‘Evening with….’ event held at London’s exclusive Rosewood Hotel where Landrover team leaders were unexpectedly serenaded by Queen’s Brian May. The focus to drive staff engagement did not end there – even the Landrover graduates jumped on board and hosted successful events on Born Free’s behalf. Money raised from the graduates was donated towards the opening of an education and wildlife rescue centre in Ethiopia.
In 2016 the brand alignment and media coverage was valued well into the millions. One major success story was the auction of the last Defender, in Bonhams of London in Christmas 2015. This raised £400,000 split equally between Landrover’s key partners: Born Free and The Red Cross. The event was awarded the Gold Award for ‘Best Collaboration for a Single Event’ in the 2016 Corporate Engagement Awards.
In five years the partnership, raised over £1.1million to deliver conservation and welfare and protect threatened species in the wild.