BMW To Break First Holiday-Sales Ads

Unlike rivals Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Lexus, BMW has always passed on holiday sales drives. But this week, looking to boost year-end sales, the German car maker’s dealers are launching BMW’s first holiday-themed ad effort as it battles competitors for share.

Created by Publicis Groupe’s Publicis in New York, the campaign includes two TV spots, radio and print. One spot, titled “Mistletoe,” shows couples kissing, presumably beneath sprigs of mistletoe held aloft by the men. After the last pair smooches, the girl looks up, and the camera reveals that the guy is holding a BMW key over her head. Onscreen text reads, “It’s better than mistletoe.”

In “Lawn Ornament,” a BMW drives along a snow-flecked road past Christmas lawn ornaments that end up clustered about the parked car. The campaign’s tagline is, “It’s time for some holiday magic.”

“It’s the first time we’ve done anything targeting a specific sales drive to a season,” said Publicis ecd David Corr, noting that the effort will be picked up nationwide with dealers having the option of when to run the ads. “We thought seasonally appropriate creative would help us eke out the sales we need this year. It’s really a struggle for share.”

Spending was undisclosed. BMW dealers spent nearly $60 million on ads in 2003, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. National advertising, via Publicis’ Fallon in Minneapolis, totaled $170 million last year, per Nielsen.

BMW became the top luxury brand in 2002, wresting the mantle from Toyota’s Lexus. BMW sold 216,917 new vehicles through September—up 6 percent from the same period last year—versus No. 2 Lexus (208,879 unit sales), according to Ward’s Automotive, and BMW’s new X3 “sports activity vehicle” is selling well. But sales of BMW’s cars are down almost 5 percent through September, per Ward’s.