BMW Creates a Folk Hero for the Modern Age: the Unstoppable, Mysterious Ol’ McLanden

GS&P turns the obstacles of a daily commute into an odyssey

Metaphorical villains of all stripes try to thwart Ol' McLanden. BMW

For the launch of the X7, its first standard seven-seat vehicle, BMW catches viewers with a whale of a tale—a poem about a new folk legend: Ol’ McLanden.

This fictional, larger-than-life character comes alive in “Legend,” a 75-second spot created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, BMW’s agency of record since April 2018.

Star Trek actor Chris Pine, the voice of BMW for years, reads a poem about badass McLanden, who “outraced the rogues around Razorback Ridge and the trolls who dug holes on the Barnaby Bridge.”

The poem has an old-timey tone, while the ad is set in present-day, over-the-top traffic scenarios. And the ad’s final reveal feels suitably modern as well:

“In a car like the X7, an ordinary day becomes legendary at every turn,” says Roger Baran, creative director at GS&P.

In the metaphor-rich ad, McLanden is chased out of the city by a stampede of bankers, and escapes the wrath of Poseidon, who is actually a city worker who opened a fire hydrant.

The character drives through dockyards, construction sites and steers clear of a gang of Mad Max bikers. McLanden drives to a private school and picks up a handful of kids, soon after revealed to be a woman.

“Make everyday legendary,” closes the ad, officially launching Feb. 18.

“It [the X7] boasts all the luxury and power of a BMW, despite its size,” says Baran. “So we turned upside down the idea that this is an epic BMW that defies the norm to create a legend that has never been heard of, a normal commute from work to home but taken to epic proportions. And that’s how we came up with ‘Legend,’ a folktale praising the heroics of an unknown hero named McLanden. The hero could be any one of us.”

A 60-second version of the spot will run during the Oscars, in addition to movie theaters across the U.S. Here’s a look behind hte scenes at how the ad was made:


Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Client: BMW of North America
Vice President of Marketing BMW of North America: Trudy Hardy
Head of Brand Strategy and Communication BMW of North America: Wolfgang Gross
National Marketing Manager: Lisa Judge
National Marketing Campaign & Production Manager: Neil Moreno

Co-Chairman: Jeff Goodby
Co-Chairman: Rich Silverstein
Chief Creative Officer: Margaret Johnson
Creative Director: Roger Baran
Art Director: Stefan Copiz
Copywriter: Andrew Bancroft

Director of Production: Tod Puckett
Executive Producer: Benton Roman

Account Services:
Group Account Director: Theo Abel
Account Director: Alissa Sheely
Account Manager: Olivia Mullen
Assistant Account Manager: Rebecca Bell
Project Manager: Kaitlyn Landers

Brand and Communication Strategy:
Group Communication Strategy Director: Dong Kim
Sr. Brand Strategist: Mackenzie Beer

Business Affairs:
Broadcast Traffic Director: Ruchele Eisenman
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Chrissy Shearer

Production Company: MJZ
President: David Zander
Senior Executive Producer: Eriks Krumins
Director: Dante Ariola
Producer: Natalie Hill
Director of Photography: Kasper Tuxen
Production Designer: Nigel Phelps
AD: John Lowe

Editorial Company: Work Editorial
Editor: Rich Orrick
Assistant Editor: Theo Mercado
Senior Producer: Jamie Lynn Perritt / Brandee Probasco
Executive Producer: Marlo Baird

Telecine: MPC LA
Colorist: Mark Gethin
Executive Producer, Color: Meghan Lang
Color Producer: Rebecca Boorsma

VFX/Finishing: MPC LA
Creative Director: Michael Gregory
Shoot Supervisors: Michael gregory, Dan Seddon
CG Supervisors: Ryan McDougal, Tim Kafka, Josh Hatton, Nishanth Shrinivasa, Boyo Frederix
Lead Compositor: Toya Drechsler
Compositors: Rodrigo Jimenez, Guillaume Weiss, Alexander Kulikov, Dylan Brown, Concept Art/DMP: Jason Heinze, Abhilash A, Bala Krishnan R, Geetesh Tari
Mohan Rao, Srinivas Achary, Silvia Bartoli, Sachin Sureshrao Dhapudkar
PreVis: Alex Moon
CG Animation: Srikar Balakrishnan, D. Venkatesan, Carl Edlund, Sashdy Arvelo
CG FX: Bhargavan SP, Prashanth Paramasivam, Andreu Lucio, Arnau Gilabert, Jinguang Huang, Andy Sheng, Nema Safvati
CG Lighting: Martino Madeddu, Sumit Kumar, Asher Stusek
Executive Producer: Karen Anderson
Senior VFX Producer: Christian Downes
VFX Coordinator: Justin Rogers-CdeBaca
Producer: Mireille Antoine
Line producer: Chris Preston-Barnes

Music: Woodwork Music
Composer: Philip Kay
Producers: Andy Oskwarek & Sam Phillips

Sound Design: Trinitite Inc.
Sound Designer: Brian Emrich

Company name: Lime
Mixer: Rohan Young
Assistant Mixer: Jeremy Nichols
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

Amy Corr is a contributor to Adweek.