An article written by Michael McCarthy published Friday by Advertising Age announced that BMW is planning to revive their grandiose advertising campaign “BMW Films.” The original campaign began in 2001 and consisted of short eight to ten minute films created by some of Hollywood’s best producers and featured some of Hollywood’s brightest stars.
The advertising campaign only ran until 2002 in large part due to the high costs of production for the short films. The first eight short action films released as a part of the campaign featured Clive Owen driving various models of BMW’s vehicles. The eight film series entitled “The Hire” was the inspiration behind “The Transporter” starring Jason Statham.
I remember when the films were first released I was in fourth grade. One day in Spanish class, for some odd reason my Spanish teacher Sr. Cabrera showed us the first film on our overhead projector. For the rest of the school year, every time a new film was released, Sr. Cabrera would show it to us in class. At the time I couldn’t even begin to imagine why he would be showing a bunch of fourth graders these films aside from the fact that the driving was kind of cool.
Looking back on it now as someone who knows a little bit more about advertising than they did in fourth grade I can understand why in 2001 BMW Films was a newsworthy subject. Just after the start of the new millennium and before the Internet had even truly started to “take off” BMW did something that companies have continued to emulate since 2001.
In advertising content is king, what you put out there is what people are going to respond to whether it be good, bad, controversial, positive, or negative. BMW took this concept to the maximum by spending millions of dollars producing the short films. What truly made this campaign “ahead of its” time however was not so much the films as it was the way in which they were distributed.
Using only the Internet in 2001 was an extremely innovative idea from BMW because it was the first advertisement of its kind to use the free channel to distribute its content. Although BMW spent millions of dollars in producing the short films, they were able to distribute it for free using the Internet as opposed to the traditional paid advertising used on TV. I think it was also an innovative idea in the way that BMW used storytelling to sell its products.
With user engagement and personalized advertisements at an all-time high in 2014, I can’t wait to see what BMW comes up with in their new short films.