Background: The objectives of the BMW Z3 roadster launch were two-fold: (1) to use the roadster to motivate and stimulate the dealer network to meet higher standards to qualify for the roadster; and (2) to build an order bank to enable the new US BMW plant to build to the specifications of BMW customers. The Z3 was the first BMW to be made in the US. Assembling cars in the US requires BMW to replace “Made in Germany” with “Made by BMW.” Much of the mystique of the BMW brand was wrapped up in the German engineering, now that the car is made in the US- this poses a new challenge.
BMW had used an “out-of the box” pre-launch (phase 1) strategy by placing the Z3 in the James Bond movie, “Golden Eye.” BMW wants to move the brand image from a yuppie status symbol to the more quality-oriented “Ultimate Driving Machine.” They decided that the Z3 would fulfill the “emotional fantasy theme” by appealing to those car drivers who are “lovers of life”. They want the new car to become a “cultural icon”.
Marketing Mix: The BMW Z3 marketing budget was split 40/60 between “traditional” and non-traditional” elements. The marketing mix included several non-traditional media events (see question 2 below), as well as TV and print advertising. The TV spots were scheduled for placement in popular network shows (Seinfeld, ER, 90210) and lifestyle cable programming. The print ads were in business, lifestyle and auto buff magazines (Business Week, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Auto Week etc.) The advertising was very successful (e.g. 15% of TV viewers demonstrated proven advertising recall- 50% higher than Mercedes).
At the end of this first phase (that is before the car was even sold), BMW was in a good position…. But what could they do next for the phase 2 launch strategy (now that the car is available)?
Discussion Questions: Evaluate the success of BMW’s promotional campaign for the Z3 Roadster. Was it a successful implementation of the integrated marketing communication (IMC) concept?
The IMC concept of marketing communications planning recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communications disciplines- and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communications’ impact through the seamless integration of discrete messages. The BMW promotional campaign was a successful implementation, because all the marketing vehicles emphasized that the BMW was the “ultimate driving machine” for those people who are “lovers of life”.
What was the role of “non-traditional” media in the launch of the Z3 Roadster? Which elements of the campaign were most important?
Non-traditional media helped to convince the public that the Z3 was the “ultimate driving machine.” The important non-traditional events include:
Placement of Z3 in the James Bond movie “Golden Eye”,
Neiman Marcus Catalog Offer (6000 customer orders or waiting list applications for 100 cars),
BMW Internet Site which allowed you to “build-your-own-roadster” (the site hits went up to 125,000 per day from 35,000),
Press Lunch in Central Park- a PR event where the “Golden Eye” character Q detailed the specifications of BMW’s latest invention and James Bond drove the Roadster. After the event, there were even cartoons on how Bond was upstaged by the car.
Jay Leno Tonight Show- BMW sent Leno a car to use in his show. Leno decided to incorporate the Z3 in a skit where Bond dodged the NBC security. It was successful, but a gamble since BMW did not know how Leno would use the car.
Radio DJ Program- DJs were allowed to design a program segment that would somehow incorporate the Z3 into their radio show or scheduled appearance. This was another risky strategy since BMW was not allowed to censor the programs in any way. However, it was successful in generating word-or-mouth advertising (three times more effect than other programs).
Go: “An American Road Story” Video - the story of an overworked architect who decides to relive a cross-country road trip he took with his aunt when he was a child. The story provides a “celebration of the road focused on the emotional character of the driving experience.” The video was available through BMW’s 1-800 number.