Over the last 70 years, Porsche has consistently placed itself at the forefront of automotive development through race-derived engineering, exploration of new technologies and a willingness to adapt. And while its cars continue to evolve at an unprecedented rate, so too must its ability to communicate. Getting the message out is an increasingly complicated and nuanced process, but Porsche is ahead of the curve once again, as evidenced by Type7.
For many the Type7 account will already be a familiar one. It’s a social media channel dedicated to Porsche that has emerged over the past 18 months in a flurry of beautifully curated content and industry goodwill to become one of the fastest growing and most widely admired Porsche platforms. But what’s interesting about Type7, and it’s not something you’re meant to see at a glance, is that this is an official Porsche marketing channel, created specifically to appear anything but. It’s very clever and very good. And the brains behind it all belong to a man called Ted Gushue.
We meet Ted on a houseboat moored on the Thames in London, his current digs and the de facto HQ of Type7. A warm and easygoing 31-year-old, Ted was raised in Connecticut and schooled in Rhode Island where he studied finance and fine art photography, two things that would serve him well in the years to come.
Ted grew up in a car-mad household where Porsche was the pivotal influence. “I was born into it,” he explains. “I came home from the hospital in an ’82 SC. We’ve always had old Porsches. But a bit like growing up in a family that’s bilingual, you don’t realise it’s special that you speak another language. I didn’t think it was remarkable that I knew about these cars.”
Upon graduating, Ted moved to New York and began working as a DJ. Some reportage on the party scene led to lifestyle-oriented editorial work and latterly to Petrolicious, the aspirational classic car website that Ted ran for two years, turning it from small-scale vanity project into familiar global enterprise.
It was during this period that Instagram became his weapon of choice, both as a media platform and a means of disseminating a brand message. “Around 2015, I thought ‘This is it. This is where all the eyeballs are going. No one has time for long form any more.’”
It was a realisation that would prove invaluable a little while later, as Ted explains: “An agency in Hamburg got in touch through a mutual friend and told me Porsche AG was looking for someone to run a website focused on under-35-year-olds. They’d set aside half a million euros to build the site and more to staff it. I said: ‘Guys, if you’re trying to reach the under-35s, a website’s not the way. Give me the production budget and instead I’ll give you an Instagram magazine for a year.’ Sixteen months later we launched Type7.”
Reaching a younger audience is a perennial problem at Porsche and the advent of social media opened up new avenues. But the demographic on the receiving end has always been a savvy one and the way to reach it is far more fraught than with traditional methods.
“We didn’t want to be ‘Porsche Marketing’,” Ted explains. “Nothing that you see on Type7 feels like it. Even when the brand-new stuff comes out we’re hesitant to push it. The perspective is much more third party.”
And this is the very crux of Type7; it appears to be ‘unofficial’ and therefore uncorrupted by those unsexy corporate forces. This gives it the ability to reach further and deeper than more overt marketing might.
“If you’re someone who’s about to buy a Porsche, seeing our Instagram isn’t going to push you one way or the other. We’re more interested in the people who aren’t even considering buying a car at all. That’s our dream customer. There are already 10,000 channels devoted to Porsche guy. But the analyst at a bank who’s just had his first big bonus, lives in the city and doesn’t even own a car – we want to get in the room with him.”
And yet this isn’t about anything so heavy-handed as sales. Type7’s approach is far more nuanced. “We want to get on their radar without just saying ‘Porsche is the best’ constantly. We want Porsche to be part of the larger conversation about design, art and lifestyle. Take any piece of iconic design and you can draw an association with Porsche. That’s the link we’re trying to make anyway, a subconscious connection with Porsche.”
The 60,000-plus followers of Type7 see a certain proportion of content that extols the virtues of mid 20th-century architecture, of lavish period hotels, often without a Porsche in sight. There are beautiful people in exotic locations and a classic 911 may just form part of the backdrop.
It’s at once admirable and a bit stealthy of Porsche, luring a fairly unspecific demographic into its world, almost without them knowing it. Brand black ops, but done so well that no-one even minds being the target. “Our push is to get into the hearts and minds of people who aren’t even thinking about Porsche,” Ted admits. “We’ve created a viable sub-brand that doesn’t say Porsche on it, that has licence to do whatever it wants.”
But for all Type7’s cunning methodology and aspirational content, an attitude of inclusivity pervades that is at odds with a lot of unofficial Porsche media of this calibre. “We’re trying to show that there’s a community and that you can join it. You shouldn’t have to know what a pushrod is to appreciate a pushrod engine. That’s my belief,” says Ted. “You should be invited to learn more, and the door should
be open for you to enter the conversation.”
Follow Type7 via @type7 and Ted via @tedgushue