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Janet Jackson & Jaguar Team UP
by Rachel L. Miller

Janet Jackson and Michelle Cervantez, vice president of marketing, Jaguar North America, photographed with the all new 2002 Jaguar X-Type.

Every head in the 20,000-plus seat arena swivels to view the video. After all, she is the reason they're all here. And now she appears, larger than life...on big white screens at both sides of the stage. 

A tight close-up on an expressive eye and delicately arched eyebrow. Cut to crystal clear headlights. A smooth cheekbone leading to an amused smile. A shot of a gleaming chrome grille. Supple black leather pulled taut on trim legs, across a muscular, yet undeniably feminine body. A luxurious interior flaunting its seats of soft leather. The sensual curve of a hip. The shiny angles of a trademark cat frozen in mid-leap. Long, sweeping brown hair coupled with a playful glance — we know Janet Jackson is not alone, but what vehicle has her smiling so?

It's a Jaguar — enough to make any grown woman swoon. But not just any 'ole Jag can attain the affections of one Ms. Jackson. It's the new X-Type, sporting black paint so smooth and slick it looks as though it's still wet. And then we see Janet again — a breathtakingly gorgeous woman whose every move just oozes confidence, independence and sensuality. Back to the Jag and its luxurious, sexy curves. As the video finishes and the audience prepares for the concert, I'm left wanting more of that oh-so-tangible on-screen chemistry.

What a couple. And who would've thought Janet Jackson would pair so easily with Jaguar's newest model? Somebody at Jaguar with great foresight must've known it would work. I, on the other hand, wrote it off as a complete mismatch upon first hearing the news that Ms. Jackson's "All For You World Tour 2001" was to be sponsored by none other than Jaguar's X-Type. Well, I was completely wrong. After all, what better way to grab the attention of a whole new audience than by forging a partnership with one of the world's most successful and recognizable recording artists?

"Jaguar's relationship with Janet Jackson is a powerful statement of our intentions to become more accessible to a new generation of Jaguar owners," says Michelle Cervantez, vice president of marketing for Jaguar North America. "The X-Type represents more to Jaguar than just a new car. X-Type will bring a new, more diverse consumer into our showrooms."

The X-Type is the fourth model in the company's expanding product range and marks Jaguar's entry into the fast-growing compact sedan segment. X-Type is Jaguar's first all-wheel drive model, which went on sale in North America on August 1, 2001. We've been lucky enough to test out the X-Type on two marvelous occasions. On a recent visit to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, our publisher took the X-Type for a few laps around the track and noted that the car handled as well, if not better, than any other sports car, easily handling speeds up to 110 miles per hour. And our own Denise McCluggage has tested the X-Type as well read her review here.

Jaguar's partnership with Jackson's "All For You World Tour 2001" provides billing in the tour title, inclusion in all tour advertising, promotion, publicity and printed tickets. At each venue, Jaguar exhibits the new X-Type and display logos on screens, banners and signs. And of course, there's that video, which is played before each concert. The video was produced by Spike Lee's 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, Inc. and was directed by Dave Meyers, who also directed Jackson's "All For You" music video.

"Our partnership has assisted Jaguar in communicating to a more diverse audience," says Spike Lee, of 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks. "This project is a direct result of that strengthening relationship."

But the only relationship on my mind the night of the concert is that between Janet Jackson, her music and hoards of screaming fans (of every age, race and persuasion — a true melting pot). And showing her dedication to her fans, she meets about 50 lucky ones (yours truly included) backstage just an hour before she's scheduled to hit the stage. With not a single hair out of place and a genuine smile on her face, she shakes hands and poses for photos (which we now are forbidden to publish, sorry). And I just keep thinking that Janet may be tiny (her waist is about as wide as one of my thighs) but she sure could kick some butt — her ripped biceps and abs can testify to that fact.  I can't even imagine how much stamina it takes to meet fan after fan then launch right into a physically-demanding two-hour concert....but Janet, of course, handles it all with grace.

From the moment she takes the stage, she is in total control (and she later sings "Control" as well — bad joke, I know). The show is non-stop energy, with mind-dizzying dance numbers that leave me wishing I could tell my right foot from my left. And as soon as she gives a simple smile or a moment's pause, the audience breaks into bouts of five-minute-long cheers, bringing a mile-wide grin to Jackson's face and tears to her eyes. 

Her fans have adored her since she joined her brothers on the small screen in the Jackson Variety Show back in 1976, then branched out with two teenage albums and finally made a solid name for herself with Control, which boasts five hit singles. Ever since Control, she's become one of the most influential recording artists of all time — and one of the most well-paid, having signed an $80 million deal with Virgin Records. The icing on the cake — Jackson's newest album, "All For You", debuted at #1 in April. And you do know that she also acts when she has the time? Last year, she starred opposite Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and in 1993 she appeared in Poetic Justice with Tupac Shakur. 

Whew. That's a woman on the move. No wonder she needs an X-Type.