BMW has just launched what the Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based company says is its biggest brand campaign to date, and maybe the first that puts as much focus on the drivers and their pleasure in driving as the cars themselves. It's part of a big-media strategy the company is doing to raise its profile worldwide with a more emotional, optimistic voice. Jack Pitney, VP of marketing for BMW, takes Marketing Daily for a drive.
Q: How different is this campaign, thematically, from what BMW has done in the past?
A: I don't think the "Joy" campaign is a tremendous diversion. We remain the "Ultimate Driving Machine" and would never move away from that. If there is a change in how we are communicating on behalf of BMW, it's in the way we are doing it. In the past we focused primarily on the cars themselves and the technological innovations under the skin.
Now what we have chosen to do is focus on the end result of all that: it's the way the cars make you feel. Really, the "Ultimate Driving Machine" is about bringing the joy of driving to life. We thought if we could tap into the enthusiasm people have about our products, that might be a good way for us to expand the story of BMW.
Q: Why this focus on the emotional quality of the brand? What insights led to this?
A: The idea for the campaign was born about 18 months ago out of the observation that not just the U.S. economy but the global economy was going into a bit of a recession. All of our research says in a recession, brands that do the best are those that are authentic, purpose-driven brands that have defined themselves over decades as being true to their core purpose.
We thought if ever there has been a time to remind people what the BMW is about, now would be the time. So we challenged ourselves to think about ways to bring that promise to life in an emotionally compelling way. What we landed upon was, well, maybe it's really about what our products do -- how they make you feel. That's why people keep coming back to the brand, and why we have the largest car club in America and the world.
We thought we should shine a light on those folks and let them tell our story for us. That was, in essence, the idea: If ever there was a time when we should remind people what we stand for, now is the time, and we also thought a joyful, hopeful, and optimistic message would be well-received right now.
Q: This is BMW's largest campaign to date. Is that because the media buy is so big during the Olympics, where the ads debuted?
A: Our approach -- not just in the U.S. -- is to find a suitable "big bang" platform in which to launch the campaign. We looked at the Super Bowl, but we thought if ever there is a platform that epitomizes joy and was more than a one-day flash like the Super Bowl, it's the Olympics.
Because of the duration of the Games and what they are all about, it's a perfect opportunity for our big-bang launch of the campaign. But this campaign is not a one-time splash and then it goes away. You will hear us talking about the story of joy not just this year, but in 2011 as well. We think there are legs here, and we are already working on the next chapter of the story.
Q: And what is next for the effort?
A: It's called "BMW Unscripted," which I'm really excited about. It acknowledges that it's our customers we are celebrating here, and we are going to focus in on some rather interesting owners and their stories, but letting them tell their stories in their own words. And it will manifest in both above-the-line and below-the-line activities worldwide. What makes it work so strongly is, it rings so true to what we are all about.
Q: Post Olympics, what is BMW's media strategy?
A: We are really taking the philosophy of "do it right or don't do it at all." That means making sure the programming we buy is indeed TiVo-proof. We are going to try to focus in on real marquee live events that people just do not want to miss. So the Olympics are a great jumping-off point for us.
You will see us have a strong presence with the Academy Awards; we'll roll into March Madness with a strong presence there -- and, as the year unfolds, we will continue to focus on high-profile TV opportunities. The Internet, by anyone's estimation, has grown tremendously over the last decade in terms of importance -- not just in lower purchase funnel activity, which it has been historically viewed as. But the Internet is an opportunity to build your brand as well.
So we are investing much more with our online activities. For 2010, we will have some print, but it will be very, very micro-targeted. What we are not doing, which we have done in years past, is out-of-home. You are not going to see lots of tier-one dollars going toward out-of-home. It's TV, Web and secondarily, print.