Link: Click Here (link is to AdCritic, a pay site)
Target: Affluent Free-Thinkers
In close focus black and white, we see an untrustworthy looking white executive smiling at the camera. As the spot progresses, we see a variety of these executives, all in close focus. The voiceover says, “Beware of the Benedict Arnold. He is behind your idea before the meeting. He even high-fives you and pats you on the back. But the second the idea meets the least bit of resistance, the Benedict Arnold flops like a pancake.” Then the spot shifts to an interior shot of a spotlessly clean factory. The voiceover continues, “At BMW, ideas are everything,” and the shot shifts to a view of the sealed assembly line tube with pristine sedan bodies moving through. “And as an independent company, we make sure great ideas live on …” here we see a completed sedan outside the headquarters, “to become Ultimate Driving Machines.” The spot closes with a view of the logo and the “Ultimate Driving Machine” tagline.
This is a novel advertising strategy from BMW and one that gives us some clues as to their future brand positioning. Instead of simply touting BMW as the driver-oriented, no-compromises ultimate driving machine company, BMW is repositioning itself Saab-like as a company of independent-minded engineers who get what they want when it comes to car design. And on the positive side, this probably reflects reality, as any car maker more worried about corporate bureaucracy or consumer acceptance would have hesitated before introducing the Chris Bangle designed 7 and 5 series cars into the marketplace over the past few years. It also has some relevance against BMW’s biggest competition in the USA – Daimler Chrysler and General Motors. These are both vast bureacracies justly criticized for sometimes losing uniqueness in the design process.
The spot also has a unique look, crafted by the agency GSD&M in Austin which will not be confused with other car commercials.
While we appreciate the originality, this advertising blog feels that BMW’s new spot is too high-concept to sell many cars. The selling proposition requires consumers to take to heart the proposition that an independent company will make more driving and safety innovations than a big bureacracy. Which makes some intuitive sense, but is left entirely without support in this execution. What features are there in a BMW that Mercedes, Volvo or Cadillac would have been too fearful to engineer into their vehicles? Is a BMW just supposed to feel quirkier or more individualistic? (And if it does, it creates another problem because quirky but smart cars was Saab’s longtime positioning.)
The other problem with this spot is kinetic. If BMWs are ultimate driving machines, one ought not to show them standing still. It sends the wrong message. As impressive as the assembly line and finished product in this spot look, they are both static images. If the BMW purchase is to be an expression of an individual’s passion for driving (on a smaller scale than a Maserati purchase would be), then the associate with the brand should not be static.
Branding Bottom Line:
BMW has us paranoid about buying a car from the Man.