Best ads in 50 years: How BMW eschewed the motivational souffle

As part of Campaign's 50th anniversary, we asked the industry to look back on the best ads of the past 50 years. We are revealing one a day for your viewing pleasure...

Best ads in 50 years: How BMW eschewed the motivational souffle

'Shaken not stirred'

WCRS / 1984

In many ways, this execution is symbolic of the resolve and style that Robin Wight and WCRS would go through in creating the long-term strategy for BMW – eventually heralding an approach that still permeates much of car advertising today.

How the concept came about is the stuff of ad legend. The landscape at the time was epitomised by sexy storytelling. All story, no product.

WCRS tried this out for BMW and it didn’t land. Wight was shaken, but not stirred. Instead, he had an epiphany. While it might seem so obvious today, at the time it was ground-breaking.

"Rather than try to whip up a motivational soufflé, we decided to search for the little pieces of grit from which the pearls of a great brand could be created," Wight declared. The proposition to the then head of BMW was to interrogate the product until it confessed to its strengths. And so, the classic side-by-side product demo was born.

Looks familiar nowadays, but we and WCRS owe a lot to this ad.

Robert Doubal is co-president and chief creative officer at McCann London

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