Skid marks coming out from under bathroom sinks? Cologne scented like motor oil? What gives? It's called affinity marketing -- and it's luxury automaker BMW's way of getting influencers with golf clubs into its high-performance M-Series cars. The company, which has title sponsorship of this week's PGA BMW Championship at the Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill., has a test-drive program there featuring the M-Series, called the "Autobahn Country Club."
To get the word out to PGA pros, the Woodcliff Lake, N.J. company's golf marketing division, BMW Golf, is using what might be called aroma advertising and in-hotel floor graphics for lead and followup communications. The effort, via Baldwin& of Raleigh, N.C., started a giveaway of bottles of "15w-50" motor oil-scented men's cologne to players finishing the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Mass. over Labor Day weekend.
Hang tags on the cologne, which is supposed to evoke the racing experience, read: "Do you know what driving 195 mph feels like? Well, this is how it smells. Get to the BMW Championship a little bit early to take one of our M cars out for a spin at the Autobahn Country Club" in Joliet, Ill.
Now, two weeks later, when PGA pros arrive for the BMW Championship, they will see the skid marks coming out from under their hotel room bathroom sink with the text: "Before you hit the course, join us at the track to burn some rubber. BMW invites you to the Autobahn Country Club." The PGA golfers responding to the invitations will get to drive the M cars on a closed track, accompanied by pro drivers Bobby Rahal and Joey Hand.
David Baldwin, principal, or (in his words) "lead guitar" of Baldwin&, says this is the agency's second year as AOR for BMW Golf and third time around on the championship. "The first year we got it as a project and they ended up giving it to us as an account," he says. "They do a ride-and-drive every year to put these prominent, competitive athletes into their M cars and let them open it up on a racetrack. It's a really exhilarating experience for these guys and they really embody the brand's stand around performance," he says.
"The issue is that [the golfers are] invited to a ton of events/ dinners/promotions throughout the tour and so any invitation you give them isn't really going to stand out if it's just a card in an envelope. So we're tasked with getting them to pay attention to the invitation and get them to that event in ways that embody the BMW ethos." As for the cologne, created by Joanna Freeman of The Shave Den in Bedford, Va., Baldwin& says the motor oil reference is not just packaging. "That is a real cologne and it really does capture the essence of the race track, burning rubber, fuel, motor oil, etc."
Earlier this month, BMW signed a partnership to be the official luxury automobile of the Big Ten NCAA college conference and is also activating against the forthcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London.