Where the BMW films a good idea? How successful was the campaign? In my opinion, the BMW films where a great idea at that specific moment in time. The company had no new product launches to promote. Furthermore, budget was available in order to “experiment” new ideas and innovative advertising and promotion actions. With this pure branding exercise BMW had little to lose (mainly money) and a huge deal to win. The campaign proved to be an incredibly successful one.
In order to measure and justify this effectiveness I have chosen to highlight the following reasons: •Number of people who watched the BMW films: The films reached a great amount of people (aprox. 9 million viewers) in the early stages of the campaign. Furthermore, BMW had managed to capture the audience they were targeting •Feedback from the viewers: The positive feedback received proved to the marketing team that the campaign had been a success. Comments showed enthusiasm and in some cases even led to action. Feedback from the media: BMW achieved to generate the sufficient interest in order to receive praises from media publications that gave the initiative a “Hollywood movie” status. •Press activity: The marketing team was overwhelmed when they saw that the press activity was 10 times higher than expected. •Viral Campaign: One of the most unexpected achievements of the campaign was to produce a massive chain reaction amongst the viewers. 94% of viewers recommended the films to others. •Increase in sales: After the BMW films campaign, sales in 2001 increased almost 12% from the previous year.
In this year BMW surpassed the 200,000 sold units barrier for the first time in North America. What was the motivation behind the idea? Given the opportunity to do pure branding the marketing team aimed at achieving through non-traditional promotion a memorable campaign that would remain in people’s minds for years to come. The motivation behind the campaign was to “refresh” the BMW brand by attracting the interest of a younger demographic segment and leave behind the traditionally yuppie customers related to the brand in previous years.
The fact that the campaign was distributed through the Internet shows the commitment of the company to attract these younger customers. The key concepts that the campaign was trying to communicate were the excitement of driving, the performance of the BMW cars and the excitement related in driving the “Ultimate Driving Machine”. A key issue for the marketing team was also to explore new possibilities in terms of promotion and to achieve the highest impact possible amongst the target audience. The first mover advantage had been at the core of BMW’s campaigns and the BMW films were to be no exception to that rule.
Who was the target market? What was the typical North American BMW customer? Is it the same as its competitor’s typical client? The “typical” BMW customer was about 46 years old with an average income of $150,000, well educate, married and with no children. Most importantly, 85% of BMW’s potential buyers were on the Internet before buying a BMW. Their customers saw driving as a pleasure and tended to be leaders. They enjoyed being in control. The competition was targeting different types of clients. The Japanese manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota and Nissan for example, were mainly targeting lower income level customers.
As for the higher end brands such as Mercedes, Porsche and Jaguar they were targeting older customers with higher income level more focused on luxury and comfort. How healthy is the brand in the US compared to previous years? What are the weaknesses? At this point in time the BMW brand was healthier than ever before in the US market. In this period, out of the people that intended to buy a luxury brand, 16% said they would buy a BMW against 11% that intended to buy a Mercedes. This represented a significant turning point in BMW’s operations in the US.
The strongest weakness I perceive in the BMW brand is the fact that it relates to people who are passionate about driving and look for the excitement of being in control of a car. Furthermore, I believe it is people who tend to be willing to maximize the cars attributes in order to experiment the whole experience the car can provide. In this sense, the brand is perishable, as customers tend to look for other attributes such as comfort; reliability and prestige tend to focus on other brands such as Mercedes or Jaguar. What should McDowell do? Which option is the correct one?
In the short term I would recommend McDowell to produce a few more short films in order to take advantage of the momentum created by the previous films. However, this strategy would not be sustainable in the long term as the competition would start copying this format and the effectiveness of the campaign would be diluted. What I would suggest in the long term would be to organize events in the major US cities that would reinforce the BMW Films concept but more personalized towards the customers. The idea behind this would be to create a lasting bond between both parties.
In order to achieve a good segmentation of customers to attend these special events I would use the www. bmwfils. com web page to select (through the previously provided information by the customers) the ones that perfectly fit the brands criteria and the ones that have the most potential of becoming BMW customers. Assuming that BMW in the short term will have new products to launch and that the advertising budget will still be low in comparison with competitors, I believe that these events would be a perfect follow up to the BMW films campaign and that expectation would be created amongst the specialized media.
Furthermore, not only would BMW be innovating in non-traditional advertising and promotion formats but they would also have the capability of specifically targeting potential customers. In this way BMW would continue to expand on the BMW Films idea but in this case the customers will perceive that they are the ones at the wheels of the “ultimate Driving Machine”.