Robert Dwek believes the gamble of identifying the Z3 with 007 has
resulted in success for both sides
‘BMW spends pounds 7 million on most expensive product placement ever!’
screamed the headlines at last November’s launch of the long-awaited new
James Bond film, Goldeneye.
Stephen Knight, a group director at WCRS and a key player in the Z3
launch, dismisses such media coverage as a load of Goldenballs. He
insists no money changed hands between BMW and Barbara Broccoli, the
Instead, the deal focused on joint promotion, with Broccoli and his
distributor, MGM/UA, stipulating that BMW had to promote the film as an
intrinsic part of its Z3 advertising.
Of course, much had to be agreed between the two parties to ensure that
both brands were singing from the same hymn sheet (an inappropriate
metaphor for a Bond film, but it will have to suffice in the absence of
one that includes bungee jumping and aeroplane chasing).
WCRS felt confident it could reassure the film-makers that Goldeneye
would be enhanced rather than undermined by its links with the Z3.
After all, the agency has consistently impressed the car maker with its
ads centred around the steely, depopulated world of BMW over the past 15
years. WCRS has raised the BMW brand to a level in the UK that agencies
in other countries can’t match.
Working below the line on the Z3 launch, and also reporting directly to
Peter Weil, the international advertising manager at BMW’s Munich HQ,
were Basten Greenhill Andrews, another longtime associate of BMW, and
Evans Hunt Scott.
A James Bond film is synonymous with sex, excitement and technical
expertise - attributes which BMW would also claim. But this particular
Bond film is also notable for self-deprecating humour, wit and a non
sexist perspective. These were qualities which those in charge of the Z3
campaign were eager to pick up on.
‘A lot of people questioned BMW’s involvement with a James Bond film,’
Knight admits. ‘Bond’s image was stuck in the 70s, very sexist and
misogynistic. But the film-makers themselves were keen to update this,
which we felt eliminated any potential threat to the brand’s integrity.’
Knight was struck by three aspects of the Z3 campaign. ‘It was the first
time BMW had used a film to launch a car; it was the first time it had
used its new US factory to produce a new model; and it was the first
time it had asked one agency to create a global campaign,’ he recalls.
The brief called for a campaign that would ‘maximise the return on BMW’s
involvement with the Goldeneye film via imaginative, appropriate and
tonally consistent marketing’.
BMW wanted to use the film to build up a cult feel around the pounds
20,000-plus Z3. It was entering the roadster market, albeit a little
late in the day (Mazda and MG are already well-ensconced, while Alfa
Romeo, Mercedes and Porsche also have models on the way).
‘It quickly became apparent that what we needed was a through-the-line
solution,’ Knight says. ‘Every aspect of the launch had to reflect the
film. We wanted to steal a march on the competition and give the Z3 a
sense of mystique others couldn’t match.’
An initial strategy was presented to BMW last September. It included
pre-film and post-film TV, and press and poster ads (in English, German,
Spanish and French).
Meanwhile, BGA created a range of literature and signage which could be
customised according to local dealer preferences. A fold-out colour
brochure, explaining the marketing strategy and packed inside an
electrostatic bag marked ‘Top Secret’, was sent to 160 BMW dealers in 50
A Goldeneye screen-saver, created by the Internet specialist, AKQA, was
also included in the promotional material, as were direct mail-shots
created by EHS. Kate Wheaton, an account director at EHS, says such a
close alliance with the ad agency was only possible because everybody
had an intimate knowledge of the BMW brand and its positioning.
‘Integration is quite easy if you all know where you’re coming from. The
good thing about BMW is that it’s such a strong brand. We all know what
it should feel like, look like and sound like. There’s no dissonance
between the different messages we all put out.’
The direct marketing, like everything else on such an ambitious
campaign, had to have a high flexibility factor built in. ‘Some dealers
were big enough to afford flashy Goldeneye premires in conjunction with
local cinemas, and this was reflected in the mail-shots we produced for
them. But others could only manage more simple viewings.’
Did all this carefully co-ordinated integration pay off? Well, BMW’s UK
order books for the Z3 are crammed full - even though it won’t be
available here until the end of this year. Currently the earliest
delivery date for new orders is May 1997.
Martin Runnacles, the marketing director of BMW GB, is understandably
happy about the outcome of this unusual campaign. ‘We were naturally
pleased to be able to link this advertising with the launch of the new
Bond film in the UK. If the consumer responses are anything to go by, it
has been a success.’
But then Runnacles might have said that whatever the outcome. You see,
he features prominently on WCRS’s Christmas party invitation - dressed
as Mr Bond himself and squaring up to a leggy, gun-toting, femme fatale.
Flattery, as they say...