ITV 50 Years of Fame: Private view - BMW

I have to confess that BMW and I go back a long way. More than 20 years ago, my 318i stood out in Ford-dominated Essex and there's only been a couple of years in the intervening period when I've been disloyal to the Ultimate Driving Machine.

My current BMW X5 is not only the best car I've ever had, its 4x4 capability is essential for a resident of Islington, the speed-bump capital of the world.

Professionally, I remember a youthful Phil Georgiadis explaining why BMW was about to venture out from the first double in The Sunday Times Magazine into the scary world of TV. A few years later, I led the barbarians of Zenith Media as we won the media account from WCRS and then shocked both the client and the agency by actually embracing, and in a number of areas enhancing, the rich heritage of BMW marketing in the UK. The briefing Zenith received from WCRS was the most complete and passionate insight into a client's business I have ever experienced. This cannot be a "neutral" Private View.

There were six ads on the showreel I was sent; I wish it had been 16.

Ever since I can remember, car ads have wrestled with the dilemma of offering something more than "car handles well on winding European road". I was fortunate enough to work on Renault at Publicis in the late 80s when the 5 (what's yours called?) and 25 ("I'm starting my own business") TV campaigns were genuine mould-breakers. BMW came to TV a few years later and came from a totally different place.

The iconic magazine ads were an integral part of BMW in the UK. How could that be translated on to the small screen? The answer was, and is, brilliantly.

I think it is a massive compliment to say that you know that you are watching a BMW ad before the car is revealed. Consistency is sometimes construed as a negative but the six ads on this showreel were all very different and yet all are clearly BMW to the core.

The "winding road" dilemma is overcome by using a dog (3 Series Compact) (4) or a luge (X5) (2).

Product demonstration for the 7 Series skilfully uses either the visual device of the "dry" swimming pool (3) or the subtle positioning of top-end art (5).

The initial 5 Series ad takes the "liquid to solid" technique from Terminator 2 and connects all the learnings that go into creating a car of its stature (1). The launch of the updated 5 Series built on that as the old "morphs" into the new (6).

All different, but all clearly from BMW.

All the major car manufacturers have moved the game on. The startling recent work from Citroen and Honda, the brave and brilliantly executed "honest" Skoda, the live Ford Focus advertainment ads and so on. Great campaigns in this category really showcase the television medium at its very best.

Going back to the time when BMW made the leap of faith on to TV, I recall the concerns that the strategy would create wastage. BMW has proved those concerns to have been unfounded. Excellent, consistent creative work succeeds at many levels.

I think that in his book Posh Spice & Persil, Jeremy Bullmore summed this up brilliantly (as always) when he wrote: "A brand, if it is to enjoy genuine celebrity, must be known to a circle of people that far exceeds what we in the business so chillingly call its target group."

Sorry if this Private View has been so fulsome in its praise but at least I declared my bias from the start.

1. 5 SERIES Title: Birth of a nation Agency: WCRS Year: 1988 2. X5 Title: Luge Agency: WCRS Year: 2000 3. 7 SERIES Title: Pool Agency: WCRS Year: 2001 4. COMPACT Title: Home Agency: WCRS Year: 2001 5. 7 SERIES Title: Art Agency: WCRS Year: 1994 6. 5 SERIES Title: Ink Agency: WCRS Year: 2003