IPA Effectiveness Awards 2004: Bronze Award - BMW


Campaign: BMW Films: The Hire

Client: BMW North America

Agency: Fallon

Principal authors: Rob White, Fallon; Adrian Ho, Fallon; Lachlan

Badenoch, Fallon

Media used: TV, print, outdoor, interactive, PR, direct marketing,

cinema, viral, press


There has perhaps never been a more talked-about or highly praised example of branded entertainment - or use of the internet for that matter - than BMW's film series, The Hire. Whether or not they were effective was, at the time, beside the point. In a world of plummeting ratings, TiVo and procurement officers, the films were a brave beacon of creative light admired by all in the communications industry.

But actually, BMW North America achieved a great deal with the series.

The films attracted a large, tightly defined audience. In terms of brand exposure per dollar spent, they cost only 56 per cent of BMW's traditional advertising budget. They attracted the equivalent of $26 million in additional free publicity. And, crucially, they helped BMW North America outperform its rivals on two fronts: absolute sales growth and marketing efficiency.

The films were launched in 2000, a year when the BMW brand had no new marques to entice new customers into its showrooms. There was also no precedent to show whether or not such an approach would work, and the films had to be shepherded through an intensely sceptical system before production could begin. Above all, BMW has been rewarded for its courage and faith in an idea that has blazed a trail in the way brands communicate.

The judges' view

Consumers were driven to The Hire in a media strategy akin to a movie launch. This was a brave step. By exploring today's technology in a highly strategic manner, it created communication that was 40 per cent more efficient than its conventional approach. BMW fared well across this period and the case offers great new learning; much can be gained from BMW's foray into brand entertainment.


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