BMW is employing an 'edgy' strategy in a bid to engage with young people as the premium brand looks to attract a new generation of customers.
The shift in strategy accompanied the launch of BMW’s X2 model, which also saw the brand partner with youth media brand Vice to host a series of escape room events.
BMW Group Australia general manager of marketing Tony Sesto told The Drum, the aim was to create something different in a bid to connect with a new audience for the brand.
“With the new BMW X2 we were talking to a new audience,” said Sesto. “To be able to do that we really needed to try something different, something that we hadn’t done with any of our previous BMW launches.”
“The challenge was that we were talking to a new audience and creating awareness of the new BMW X2. This was a much younger audience than we have spoken to before, and a lot of the research showed a strong alignment between who we were trying to speak to and the Vice audience.”
To launch the new model, BMW and Vice, along with media agency Vizeum, collaborated with conceptual artist and HTRK frontwoman Jonnine Standish, to create a series of escape room experiences which were in held in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
The ‘X-Cape Room’ events, held at venues such as a huge carpark beneath Sydney Opera House, centred around a cosmic, lunar theme, with players assuming the role of astronomers battling a devastating black hole. The experiences included interactive challenges and puzzles and featured BMW touchpoints as well as the new vehicle models.
“The idea was to build an alternative escape route experience to take people out of their comfort zone and away from their routine. We wanted to challenge people and dare them to be different,” said Sesto.
“The objective was to make the first ever BMW X2 the most hyped and most talked about vehicle launch of the year, and that was why we partnered with Vice to create the escape activity.”
While Sesto could not share any results or numbers from the events, he said all available slots across all states had filled immediately and attracted a waiting list that went into the thousands.
“The initial results have been quite pleasing. For us it was a very strong campaign and we were able to achieve our objective of talking to a much younger audience.”
“The car and the whole marketing campaign aims to be a bit different from what you would usually see from BMW. The buyer we were targeting was not your usual BMW driver.”
The campaign and the vehicle also present the brand with a slice of the entry-level category of the premium brand market, which is a particularly popular segment in Australia’s competitive car market.
According to Sesto, there are 67 brands and around 350 models battling it out in Australia’s car market. The premium category which has experienced growth for the past 5 years is now seeing a normalisation as it stablilises. BMW has achieved more than 30% growth during this period, and the brand is clearly looking to younger drivers who are moving into the premium brand category to maintain its growth.
“We don’t look at what everyone else is doing. One of our major objectives is to bring a new customer to the brand and attract a new audience,” said Sesto.
The Australian campaign takes its lead from other markets where BMW partnered with Snapchat to trial is AR technology in a bid to appeal to young people.