There are few platforms as big as the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics, which is why BMW is making its largest media investment of the year in order to introduce the i Brand series of electric vehicles.
During NBC's Feb. 7 broadcast, BMW is debuting three commercials to showcase the i3 and i8, both of which go on sale in North America in Q2. Digital shorts showcasing these vehicles also launch Feb. 7 at NBCOlympics.com.
Ad agency Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners developed the TV, digital and social media creative for the campaign. UM handled the media buying. Octagon, the sports and entertainment division of the Interpublic Group of Companies, manages all U.S. Olympic partnerships and athlete relations.
"The Olympics are a big opportunity to create a conversation without a cluttered competitive market," says Michael Jobst, national marketing manager, BMW of North America. "There's no Audi or Mercedes. We own the conversation." Indeed, BMW is the only foreign automaker to advertise during the Sochi games, as it was during the 2012 London Summer Games.
"The Olympics are a huge stage where advertisers come together in a very positive and uplifting way," says BMW's Jobst. "The one thing we like with the Olympics over the Super Bowl is that [ads during] the [football] game are really about jokes and amusement. We feel the Olympics are more appropriate for our brand."
Indeed, BMW wants to be aspirational and forward-thinking. The campaign's concept illustrates future technology, and one spot builds upon "2001: A Space Odyssey." "We have been showing our concept car forever, and everyone always said that the real one would never look that good," says Jobst. "But in 'Hello Future,' we show that the future is better than expected."
While BMW is using the first night of the games to focus on the i series, the two-week event allows BMW to showcase its general brand as well as promote specific models, including the 2 series and the X5. "Everyone watches the Olympics. In order for us to grow the brand, we have to move past our traditional demographic," says Jobst. "We want to reach millennials or those that just may have never considered BMW before."
BMW has used its engineering expertise to redesign and create six two-men bobsleds, a process documented in "Driving On Ice," a film produced by UM Studios and Stun Creative. This film is currently airing at select BMW dealerships.
The "BMW Bobsled Time Tracker" online sweepstakes invites people to predict the finish time of the two-men U.S. bobsled team on February 12. The winner receives a trip to Utah to receive a real bobsled experience. BMW financially supports seven U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes as part of the BMW Performance Team U.S. Local dealerships are donating $10 to Team USA for each test drive through Feb. 28.
Now, there is some slight tension within BMW over many of these Olympic initiatives. BMW is a German brand and some of its dealers are supporting German athletes, while
the North America division is involved with American athletes. The bobsled redesign, for instance, will only benefit one country: the U.S. Still, Jobst says any competition between the two units is
good-natured, and there's enough BMW to benefit everyone.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Michael Jobst as Matt Jobst.