Traditionally, BMW produces a major advertising campaign to launch a new model. In 2001, as no new vehicle was anticipated, BMW North America (with its agency, Fallon) decided to launch a campaign exclusively designed to strengthen brand awareness and strengthen BMW's image "delivering the world's most exciting luxury cars ".
BMW's marketing team proceeded from the fact that the average age of its clients was 46 years, they earned an average of $15,000 per year and that 85% (in 2000/2001!) of them made use of the Internet before choosing a new vehicle. So they decided to create a series of short films around a recurring hero (played by Clive Owen), "the driver", made by well-known directors ("Ambush", by John Frankenheimer / "Chosen", by Ang Lee / "The Follow", by Wong Kar-wai / "Star", by Guy Ritchie / "Powder Keg", by Alejandro Inarritu / "Hostage", by John Woo / "Ticker", by Joe Carnahan / "Beat the Devil", by Tony Scott)... and broadcasted on the Internet during two seasons.
Announced by TV spots presented like "movie trailers", by a printout campaign and an Internet campaign, these films could be viewed once the user had registered on the BMW Films site. They could also download the BMW Film Player - giving detailed information on the cars used in the films as well as bonuses, etc.
The results were fascinating:
- The films were viewed 11 million times in the first 4 months,
- 2 million Internet users registered on the site,
- 60% of them wanted to receive more information by mail,
- 94% among them recommended the films to other surfers,
- ... and the sales of BMW rose by 12.5% in 2001.
This campaign was a real innovation from every point of view:
- The use of the Internet as a medium of communication with films designed for that purpose by deflecting the TV series model (when ADSL was still rare);
- The choice of famous directors and stars - and therefore a high quality production ... consistent with brand values.
- The desire not being to sell a product but to build the brand image: the sales are but a consequence - but they are not the end purpose of the film (in contrast to conventional advertising campaigns)
- It is therefore extraordinary risk-taking on the part of a luxury brand … that proved to be successful.
We had to wait 8 years to see another luxury brand tread the same path: I will talk next week of the new Dior campaign, "Lady Black", which draws heavily from this BMW example.
I do not want to leave you craving for more, so here are some of the films. If you so wish, I will post the others later. Enjoy!