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BMW shifts ad strategy to entice luxury consumers

BMW is pulling away from its traditional advertising strategy in favour of a drive to entice luxury consumers to buy its all-new BMW 7 Series.

The car marque has spent four years honing the marketing for the new model, which includes new technologies such as gesture control and remote control parking, and involved its marketing team from the beginning of the car’s development to produce more effective ways of communicating the slew of innovative technology inside.

The new tag-line ‘Driving Luxury’ (which will be used only for the 7 Series) replaces BMW’s ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ positioning. Instead of showing the car winding its way around a race track, the car is seen stationary in front of an expensive looking house to accentuate its features.

“The new BMW 7 Series has a lot of things that are true to BMW and are true to our brand identity but at a very early stage we already thought about how can we interact in our marketing approach with this car in a different way,” Timo Resch explained on stage at Dmexco today (17 September).

“With BMW, reinventing luxury is not something that you have at the top of your mind when you think about stuff like that. Yes, we want to stay true to what BMW has always been about, but to get a message across in a segment like this where competitors are strong we had to get our marketers on board at an early stage.”

The technology, which takes precedence over the driving expereince itself, forms the crux of the advertising with emphasis placed on features such as an integrated tablet that controls the heating and atmospheric lighting inside. Owners will also be able to take the tablet out of the car and upload music at home.

To create a buzz on social media, BMW invited 20,000 ‘influencers’ to closed sessions where - minus their mobile phones or a camera - were able to experience to the car and its technology before posting about it on their social media profiles. A word-of-mouth tactic that Resch said has created “an avalanche” of attention.

Despite running two very different types of advertising concurrently, BMW isn’t worried that a splitting of the brand will take place. “It’s not forking the brand at all, it shows how truly commited we are to the 7 Series,” said Resch. “To get the message across to customers that they are looking for the ultimate driving experience and luxury the 7 Series is also the right answer and open up our communications and open up a new chapter of how we talk about the car and not just in stereotypical pictures.”

To market the car, BMW is keen to use new advertising methods to support the technology and rise above the clutter. While Resch didn’t reveal what those plans were, he said the emergence of connected vehicles poses advertisers with additional opportunities of offering more intelligent targeting via the traditional car radio space – a media channel that has seen little evolution since its inception.

Hypothetically, if car manufacturers can connect masses of information on those drivers navigating its vehicles, these insights can be used to better target ads based on previous behaviours. Aside from basic demographic data, further audience segments can be compiled based on behaviours such as regular journeys, which can be tracked using GPS technology, etc.

Such a development could potentially position traditional car marques as media owners in their own right, or additional third-party data providers, which advertisers could then use to further inform their media purchases.

Media owners already looking into the connected car opportunity include Pandora, which has partnered with multiple car marques whereby the music-streaming service is preloaded on to the dashboard of connected car manufacturers’ vehicles.