The arch-conservative car manufacturer has broken the mould. By
Which is the odd one out: Coca-Cola, Rolex or BMW? All three are
aspirational brands, and all are well known internationally, but only
one - BMW - has never had a global branding campaign. Until last week,
that is, when the arch-conservative German group became the first car
manufacturer to run truly global advertising.
Auto makers have been left behind as other industries have stampeded
towards global rather than localised advertising. But now, one of
Europe’s most traditional groups has decided to break the mould.
What triggered the move, according to BMW’s manager of international
advertising, Peter Weil, was a piece of research carried out a few years
ago which showed that 70 per cent of the reasoning behind any purchase
of a BMW stems purely from its brand values.
’People don’t say, ’I must have a BMW 3 series,’’ he explains. ’They
say, ’I must have a BMW - now, which one can I afford?’’
So, it became imperative to reinforce those values, and ensure BMW’s
mobile target market of ABs found the same message in each country that
However, fully globalised marketing is particularly difficult to
This is because car groups are by necessity decentralised - each market
has to be allowed to have its own head and be its own profit centre, or
it would not establish the right level of technical back-up required
with such a complex product.
The net result is that each local car company has run its own
And, naturally enough, each prefers to spend cash on product-based
advertising, rather than on reinforcing brand values, because this has a
more immediate impact on sales.
To get round this problem, BMW’s Bavaria-based marketing director,
Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, has spent the last three years steering his master
plan of a global advertising campaign through the company. First through
the group’s traditional head office decision-makers, and second through
the minefield of local BMW companies around the world.
WCRS, which handles BMW’s advertising in the UK, was asked to develop a
campaign to reinforce the brand with ads that could run across Europe,
Asia and the Americas, reaching an estimated 17 million target
Running in international business and general titles and selected
national titles on each continent, every country’s advertising will use
the same endline, with the exception of the US, which it was felt would
not appreciate the ’Freude am Fahren’ (joy of driving) strapline. All
copy save the endline will be in English, except in Latin America,
China, and a few ads in Germany.
Kalbfell has earmarked pounds 15 million for the project, and hopes that
for the sake of such expense, the global village really does exist.