BMW's ad for its i3 car has yet to air on Super Bowl Sunday, but it's already proving to be a viral hit with audiences. Since "Newfangled Idea" was posted on Monday, it has been viewed more than 3.8 million times on YouTube, and it's likely to be the most viewed video on the BMWUSA channel before the spot ever airs on TV. The video platform added that this is one of the "fastest rising" Super Bowl ads, meaning it's gaining the most views in the shortest period of time.
"If you're going to the Super Bowl with a 60-second spot, there is a lot of investment behind it," said Manuel Sattig, brand strategy and communication manager, BMW of North America. "We wanted to create huge reach and awareness for the BMW i3 specifically, and people start looking for Super Bowl ads before the sports event itself."
BMW kicked off the campaign by debuting it on the Today Show, a nod to the commercial's inspiration. The ad pokes fun at a Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel segment on the NBC morning news program in 1994 in which they admit they don't get what the @ symbol and the Internet are. Similar bewilderment is expressed in the commercial as they discuss the BMW i3 in modern times.
Sattig explained that BMW discovered viewers are expected to watch more than 70 million minutes of Super Bowl ads on YouTube, which is a 50 percent increase from last year. By posting its commercial online before the event, and promoting it through social channels like Instagram and Twitter, BMW was able to build buzz for the spot and the product.
BMW is already seeing the early benefits. The car manufacturer said that currently, over 61 percent of people who visit the BMW USA website create a customized BMW i3, making it the most popular model to design on the site. Ten times more people are asking for information about the vehicle compared to last week. After the ad was posted online, the @BMWiUSA Twitter account grew followers by 42 percent in a week. Its Facebook followers grew 58 percent during the same time frame.
There is such a thing as releasing ads too early, Sattig warns. For car manufacturers, in particular, posting Super Bowl plans more than a couple weeks before the game would conflict with annual holiday promotions.
"I think one or two weeks before is probably the boundary we're going to see," he said.
BMW will extend its campaign through Feb. 6, past the game, in hopes of continuing the momentum. Plans include behind-the-scenes content and b-roll that has yet to be released. In addition, starting Sunday, fans of the BMW i3 can go to the BMW USA website for a customized Super Bowl experience.