How do you make a good advertisement for a car? GM would make you beleive they can sell you a car by showing some “real” people being excited, because their pickup has a couple more horsepower than its rival, or its Impala has wifi, so everyone can use their tablet. If anything, these adverts show just how clueless some companies are on how they should showcase their car. People don’t care that your carefully selected focus group believes that steel is stronger than aluminum. That’s just being lazy, on the same level of an American political campaign, and will bite you back when you inevitably have to use the technology your competitors use.
To use the old marketing speak, an advertisement must sell the brand, promote its values. If people cannot identify with what your brand is about, they won’t consider your product in the future. I already talked about this with the Toyota GT86 advert, which promoted the love of driving, directly in line with what the car was about. And I’m repeating myself, because BMW has once again embraced the concept of the brand, and remade its legendary “The Hire” movie series.
For those who don’t know, BMW, back in 2001, made a series of short films with famous actors and directors, showcasing their range, and in the process, creating the ultimate brand promotions. These movies featured Clive Owen in a variety of BMWs, playing an anonymous driver, driving important people around, while often evading a plethora of bad guys. These were no simple adverts, each short film being directed by a famous director, with their own style. The best thing about these adverts (they are adverts after all), is that there was no overemphasis on the car. The focus was the content and the form, not the car. In this way, the car became part of the movie, and you rarely had the impression that the movie was made around the car. In fact, as opposed to some product placements (say Transformers), the cars would get scratched, broken and beaten. The car was the support cast to the driver, and in that way broke the typical advertisement format. It was genius, and ensured BMW remained a “cool” brand for people who love driving. After all, it’s slogan was “Ultimate driving machine”, or more recently, “Joy”. To people who ask whether it was worth it, these videos were seen millions of times, in 2001. Before Youtube. And to this day, people still remember them!
Now, in a time when BMWs are more and more distancing itself from the whole “man and machine” concept, with fake sound, and overall cumbersome sports cars, “The Hire” is back. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as people are starting to question if BMWs are still about driving. Now we have Clive Owen again, helping a kid get away from bad guys, in a BMW 5 series. The formula is the same, as in the car is a support character, and the story has little to do with BMW. The tradition of having famous directors doing their thing is continued here, with Neil Blomkamp (of District 9, Elysium and Chappie fame) bringing his signature touch to this short marvel. It’s worth the watch, and makes you appreciate BMW, and understand it’s brand values. And that’s what a good advertisement should be about.