OPINION: BEALE ON ... BMW 5 SERIES

Let's talk torque. Are you interested in wickedly potent bhps, or the curviness of the curve when shifting a couple of tons of ergonomic metal from 2,000 rpm to 4,3000 rpm? Or where on the mph scale your velocity hits terminal?

It's a well-known fact that British car drivers can be scientifically broken down into three cells: those who know what torque is, those who think it's something lovely in twisted bronze from Theo Fennell's autumn collection, and drivers with kids. From a detailed attitudinal analysis of these sects, it's clear that advertising cars represents a challenge of Blainesian proportions.

Which must be why so many car ads are about as interesting as watching an American in a Perspex box. The Temazepan banality of most car ads is highlighted in the weekend supplements, where (why?) so many indifferent ads are crammed together, generally achieving about as much stand-out as a Kate Moss cleavage. But much car advertising on TV is equally bland.

The new ad for BMW's relaunched 5 Series isn't. Technically brilliant, sharp and sophisticated, this ad is clever clever. Drops of ink seep from books, faxes, computers to form a sea of sticky black goo that finally comes together to form the shape of the car. Sort of Terminator 2 meets The Blob.

The empty offices and libraries from which the ink seeps have a chilly, Orwellian feel. And, as you'd expect from BMW, it's very black, very masculine.

Smell the testosterone. The endline explains all: "All we know about the car, in a car."

In many ways, this is an arrogantly bald message. According to a new study from the RAC, it costs an average of £103.58 a week to own and run a car (a top-of-the-range BMW takes those costs to well over £300 a week).

That's around a quarter of the average disposable income. So it's hardly surprising that, apparently, we spend a couple of years ahead of our car purchase assimilating, often sub-consciously, lots of information about the sort of cars that we feel might suit us. Once we've approached the active purchase zone, hard facts become crucial.

The BMW ad provides none of these essentials. Some car purchasers will want to know about bhps, mphs, torques and so on. To some, ahem, the colour of the seats, the number of useful pockets and flaps, and enough headroom for big hair are equally crucial. But for the vast majority of car buyers - once they've decided whether they want a big car or a small car - price, safety, reliability and envy-factor just about cover all the bases. BMW disdainfully shrugs off the need to provide such detail.

The ad says nothing about the new 5 Series. And yet it says everything.

The potent sense of mastery, of omnipotence is compelling. The message is clearly that we mere mortals don't need to talk torque, just rest securely in the knowledge that BMW has it off pat. So the smug endline fits perfectly.

Sure, there is a BMW website, supporting press and poster work and detail aplenty available from the PR that the relaunch has fuelled. But the TV ad is surely really an ad for those people who already have a BMW. It's about reassuring BMW drivers that they've made the right choice, bought the best and are confident enough not to need to underline their decision with a lot of technical bollocks that none but the experts really understands.

The ad does this job perfectly. And is guaranteed to ensure that BMW is pretty damn near the top of the list when the time comes to trade in.

Thankfully for BMW, the car critics seem to love the new 5 Series, too.

Which probably counts for more than a dozen multimillion-pound TV campaigns.

Dead cert for a Pencil? Possibly for special effects.

File under ... T for testosterone.

What would the chairman's wife say? "I could buy a pair of Manolos every

week for what you spend on that car."

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