The Emotional Driving Machine




Ditching Its Techno Vibe, BMW Pursues a ‘Touch of Humanity’
CHICAGO–BMW of North America is moving toward a more emotional approach in its advertising beginning with the introduction of its X5 sport utility vehicle, company officials said.
Gone are the techno music beats, sharp edits and black-and-white photography that have characterized past BMW ads. For two new X5 spots that will air during the Super Bowl, Minneapolis agency Fallon McElligott has developed an atmosphere of virtual silence and youthful reminiscence.
The Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based automaker wants to “add a touch of humanity and emotion” to advertising for all its models as it moves into a new segment, said vice president of marketing Jim McDowell.
The company also wants to separate itself from what it feels is a slew of imitators, including Mitsubishi and Oldsmobile, said Fallon group creative director Bruce Bildsten.
“It’s both a matter of what the product was and a need to move on from where we had been,” he said.
The new approach involves telling abstract stories that “concentrate on the experience of driving a BMW and how it relates to the great things in your life,” Bildsten said.
One new spot, for instance, intercuts a woman skiing down a pristine mountain with shots of the X5 driving through the forest. As she finishes her run with a smile, a voiceover asks, “It’s not a feeling you can get every day. Or is it?”
A corresponding print campaign, breaking in February and March books, continues the “Or is it?” theme with photographs of people cliff-diving and swimming with dolphins. The longstanding tagline “The ultimate driving machine” remains.
“Or is it?” will be limited to the X5 intro, but the aspirational tone will permeate the company’s future advertising, McDowell said.
Spending for the X5 launch was undisclosed, but the client expects it will be more than the $18 million spent on the Z3 roadster launch in 1997, McDowell said.