Fallon’s New BMW Ads Push Speed Client Abandons Previous Themes of Safety, Value and Sex Appeal

BMW of North America’s new image campaign, breaking this week, is about throttle, performance and driving as sport. There’s not a penguin in sight.
BMW is calling three new TV spots, with two more on the way, and five new print ads from Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, its “Responsiveness Campaign,” though the client is sticking with its “Ultimate driving machine” tagline.
The TV spots are shot in black and white and are set to heavy metal music with no voiceover. On-screen copy delivers the emphasis on performance and responsiveness to the road.
In one spot, the copy reads: “Happiness is not around the corner. Happiness is the corner.”
For the past few years, BMW has sent out a series of messages about safety, value and sex appeal. Vice president of marketing Jim McDowell said, though, that a survey of consumers who looked at a BMW but bought another make showed that people were seeing other brands as more fun to drive. ” ‘More fun to drive? Wait a minute, that’s us,’ we said to ourselves,” McDowell remembered.
BMW will spend $30 million on the effort between now and the first quarter of 1998. Its overall budget for the new model year will be about $90 million, 10 percent more than this year.
The new tonality for BMW may seem to be targeting younger buyers, but McDowell pointed out that it is primarily aimed at non-BMW owners, which tend to be older than BMW owners’ median age. “The work tested very well with 40-year-olds, as well as with our 20-something target,” said McDowell.
Mark Goldstein, president of integrated marketing at Fallon, said the agency tried to capture what BMW owners said was the most important aspect of the cars: The fact that they love to drive them. “For some, it’s the best part of their day,” he said.
Print ads are similar to the TV, except for being in color. One ad reads: “Your brain tells your hands to turn. The car responds as if it were eavesdropping.” They will run in September issues of Automobile, Motor Trend and Travel & Leisure.

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