The road ahead: How HPS Group helped BMW to celebrate 100 years of motoring

By Michael Feeley | Founder and chief exec

HPS Group

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October 20, 2016 | 5 min read

When BMW Group UK wanted to promote an exhibition celebrating the brand’s 100-year history, the agencies of HPS Group joined forces to deliver a vision of the future to engage and excite the BMW owners (and engineers) of tomorrow.

“As a fully integrated marketing communications agency, it’s great when every part of the Group is involved in the end-to-end delivery of a single project for a client, and that’s exactly what happened with one of our recent projects for BMW,” says Mark Cornwell, chief executive of HPS Group.

The project in question – the BMW Group Future Experience – formed part of the motoring giant’s international centenary celebrations. BMW brought a state-of-the-art exhibition and visitor experience to the Camden Roundhouse from 18 to 26 June. It was HPS Group’s job to raise awareness of the event and drive footfall to Camden through a series of engaging pop-up events at high footfall locations around London.

In addition to providing a focal point for BMW’s birthday celebrations, the Future Experience was created to help customers look forward to the ‘Next 100 Years’, highlighting BMW’s vision for the future of mobility and to engage the next generation of engineers, drivers and inventors.

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“BMW is a long-standing client of HPS,” says Cornwell. “So that relationship and level of trust allowed us to push boundaries and deliver something special, including a couple of world-firsts. That was both exciting and challenging.”

The big idea, led by HPS Group’s PR and events division HPS Jardine, was to imagine what London would look like in the ‘Next 100 Years’ – making the centenary celebrations, BMW ‘Vision Vehicles’ and Camden Roundhouse event more relevant to the wider public – and bringing it to life using innovative technologies. This included the creation of an immersive futuristic panorama of London, based on real photography enhanced by renowned concept artist Ioan Dumitrescu, and a 3D hologram video and plastic prism viewer for use with mobile devices. These were turned into futuristic experiences by HPS Group’s video content arm, Breakfast of Champions.

Cornwell says: “We wanted to create a real wow-factor. Having seen some of Ioan’s art, we knew he could bring something special to the table. Breakfast of Champions took his designs and blended them into the artwork to create a ‘Vision of London’ panorama, incorporating the ‘hero’ BMW Vision Vehicle, enabling users to ‘step into’ a virtual London and immerse themselves in the future. The experience and imagery went down a storm, both as a backdrop for on-stage presentations at the Roundhouse and as part of the experiential pop-up events we staged around London.

“The Breakfast team also created a 3D hologram video that was displayed on small branded plastic prisms. The prisms sit on top of any mobile device, giving the impression of the BMW Vision vehicle, and a call to action to visit the experience, floating above the screen. It was a really innovative piece of content, giving users a taste of how brands may well communicate with customers in the future."

Cornwell adds: “More than 5,000 branded prisms were given away at the experiential events. The 3D video we made explained how to use the prism and the animation could be viewed on any mobile device, without the need to download a new app. Using new technology is great, but not at the expense of making it difficult to engage with your audience.”

HPS Group’s in-house design studio masterminded the creative direction, producing the ‘Next 100 Years’ branding applied at every touchpoint, including a futuristic trail and quiz for children invited to attend tours of the BMW Group Future Experience, as part of a schools’ CSR initiative.

To ensure the schools visiting the event had the best possible experience, they were picked up in a specially branded bus and given a guided tour of the event, which included bespoke interactive experiences and educational workshops based around engineering, coding and other topics relevant to the National Curriculum, according to Cornwell.

“The school kids responded amazingly to the whole experience, including the world of virtual reality through Google’s Tilt Brush 3D art on the HTC Vive headset, which enables you to draw, paint and design in 3D. BMW’s designers use it to design their vehicles, so the kids, who were ‘born connected’, could easily understand the future of this type of technology and loved having the chance to get hands-on with it.”

In addition to using VR technology on-site, thousands of BMW #Next100 branded cardboard VR headsets were also given away to allow attendees to experience the VR assets at home via YouTube, with no additional software required to view.

HPS Jardine also oversaw the running of three exclusive VIP evenings at the BMW Group Future Experience, with guest speakers including Lord Sebastian Coe, Gadget Show TV host Jason Bradbury and editor of GQ Dylan Jones. Retail 7, another of HPS Group’s divisions, supplied promotional staff to host visitors and encourage them to experience the world of VR through Google’s Tilt Brush 3D art.

“They were great nights, with futuristic décor, catering, entertainment, as well as great guest speakers, speculating about the future of their own industries and areas of expertise,” says Cornwell. “From the HPS Group perspective, the BMW Group Future Experience project demonstrated the value of having complementary agencies under the one banner, working together to bring the brand closer to its customers. It also provided proof that, when a client trusts an agency to try something new, amazing results can follow.”

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