Meet Mister Maserati
Although a future in the motor industry was not part of the original plan that Jason Cleghorn, Head of Marketing for Maserati South Africa, had at the start of his career – he studied graphic design at first – this transplanted Brit ended up in the fascinating world of distinguished cars almost by accident.
From his background as creative director at various advertising agencies, Cleghorn displayed an almost fanatical thirst for knowledge outside the world of advertising, completing an MBA in his field and receiving charter membership of the Institute of Marketers.
His first stint, as a graphic designer with the renowned Saatchi&saatchi agency, Cleghorn worked on various retail campaigns before deciding on a fortuitous move to South Africa, which would eventually see him heading up marketing for the Maserati brand in the country. It was during this transition that Cleghorn, who by now had launched his own bespoke agency, was first introduced to the motor industry when he did some work for Ferrari in South Africa.
His exceptional skill as a marketer was soon noticed, and he was offered a position as full-time head of marketing for Ferrari and Maserati at Viglietti Motors in Cape Town.
Cleghorn then undertook another migration of sorts by focusing all of his attention on the Maserati brand which, he says, appealed to him because of its long and illustrious history in South Africa. This history, Cleghorn emphasises, also comes with a level of luxury and exclusivity that few if any of the brand’s peers can meet.
Particularly proud of the progress made by Maserati over the past two years, Cleghorn points to the new and exciting range, including the Levante SUV, which has achieved considerable success in the local market. He credits these successes to Maserati’s ability to meet the needs of their customers who demand something different, Maserati’s bespoke level of service, a sound relationship with the importer, and the fact that the customer is always the most important part of the product and supporting service equation.
Being Maserati, and therefore much more than just another set of wheels, the importer’s ongoing lifestyle campaigns, its concierge platform, and the Maserati academy training, all score highly in the minds of owners who then effortlessly slot into the role of ambassadors for the brand.
We pitched a bit of a trick question at Cleghorn, asking him which historical Maserati was his all-time favourite. “I have often thought the A6G 2000 Granturismo from around 1955 was one of the prettiest cars ever made,” said Cleghorn, but with only some 20 of these delectable cars ever made, he nostalgically, and sadly, pointed out that ownership of one of these rare beauties would have to remain an unattainable dream.
But what then does Maserati’s “Numero Uno” man in South Africa drive? “All of them,” comes the reply, but there’s a noticeable soft spot for the MC Stradale and also the Levante SUV.
The current line-up of five models, Cleghorn pointed out, will be joined by derivatives such as an even more refined Quattroporte, and a petrol version of the Levante. Then there are revised versions of the Granturismo and the Grancabrio set to enter showrooms before the end of the year.
These showrooms, Cleghorn pointed out, will soon be joined by a third dealership in Durban and, with him steering the brand in a dynamic new direction, this famous Italian marque is poised to present a real challenge to other importers of luxury cars.