BMW Films returns: Still the best content delivery vehicle around

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

After 15 years, BMW films returns to the Internet. Can they recreate the magic from the original?

Here’s the new spot:

This is 10-minute high-quality production movie, with Clive Owen as the lead. However, the car is the true hero, as we can see the handling, speed, braking and the quietness of the car. Even filled with bullets the car still looks amazing.

This spot has 2 Million views after 4 days in the Market. That should put it on a pace for 30+ million views–maybe more if it takes off.

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In 2001, BMW launched BMW Films, light years ahead of the industry. 

While everyone was still worried about producing 30s and 15s and newspaper ads, most brand leaders were still thinking whether they could afford to put 1% of their budgets into the Internet. From a brand point of view to that point, BMW had always used traditional media like TV and Print to sell their cars. But they saw that things were changing, especially seeing that the role of the internet on the purchase cycle. Roughly 85% of BMW purchasers use the Internet before purchasing a BMW. BMW knew that the average work-hard, play-hard customer was 46 years old, with a median income of about $150,000. Two-thirds were male, married, and had no children. Competitively, BMW has a lot of love but it was still battling traditional rival Mercedes who had the most love of all Luxury Car Brands.  BMW needed to put their stake in the ground to push to be the Most Beloved Luxury Car brand. They needed something that the consumer would love and in turn love the BMW brand.

Integrated Content at its Best

The idea of BMW Films was to cast the BMW car as a hero into the starring role of a movie, and in fact many movies. Fifteen years ago, BMW assembled a cast of A-list directors (Guy Richie, Tony Scott, Ang Lee) and A-list actors (Clive Owen Forest Whittiker, Madonna, Mickey Rourke), and developed scripts within the basic framework of having a central character that helped people through difficult circumstances using deft driving skills—in a BMW. The car became the star. Each director who chose a script was then given complete creative control over content and direction, something they would be hard-pressed to find in Hollywood, and something that BMW ordinarily wouldn’t allow if filming a traditional advertisement.

Here’s the original spot from 15 years ago, with Clive Owen and Madonna.

BMW used traditional media with mock movie trailers on TV and on-line advertising to surround their consumer and drive traffic to the website. The end results were staggering: the series had been viewed over 100 million times in four years and had changed the way products were advertised. BMW has had a great decade of sales, recently surpassing both Lexus and Mercedes as the #1 luxury brand.

BMW Films was out there. It took risks, and was an incredible production. To me, it’s still the benchmark for Content Marketing. To me, it’s like Bob Beamon surpassing the long jump record by 2 1/2 feet when everyone else was measuring in inches. It’s like Babe Ruth hitting 60 home runs when the next guy had 17. I hope to see other brands step it up, rather than a lot of the crap that gets shoved out to the market. I sure hope we see BMW films again next year!

In the past 15 years I’m yet to say “Now, that’s better than BMW Films”

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