Dear BMW Marketing: what on earth are you doing?
They've been behaving quite strangely
One evening in around the middle of last week, I attended a meeting (virtually of course) hosted by my university course tutors and head of year. To put it sweetly, all of us are struggling at the moment with constant changes and COVID-19 restrictions hindering our individual livelihoods. Naturally, we were annoyed and boy, did it show.
I shan't name anybody, of course, but the level of anger and distress displayed by students and reciprocating feelings of the tutors somehow made the atmosphere not only heated, but really quite sad.
We, the students, were armed with more questions than Laura Kuenssberg would be, should Mr Johnson decide that you should only leave your house to drive to Barnard Castle - but to only to test your eyesight of course. The tutors were seemingly overwhelmed and it looked like they couldn't grasp what was going on towards the end; I could see the look in one tutor's eyes fizzle with worry because I can't imagine they never had such a backlash before.
Hopefully, that backlash should turn into results. It would be nice to see everyone work together and come to a resolution that satisfies both us students whose lives are increasingly mental, and the tutors who understandably, are also stressed at everything this virus is throwing at us.
Image: BMW Group Press
This neatly brings me onto the topic of the Bayerische Motoren Werke (or BMW for literally everyone), because it seems that alongside the rather controversial new models unveiled this year, they also seem to have arrived alongside some seriously questionable marketing strategies.
It's a suitable practice to write this piece now because of two reasons. Firstly, there is enough evidence to discuss a case, and secondly, we really have no idea what BMW will be doing next.
I'm confident in suggesting that you're all aware of the above tweet? Good, now let's question what on earth was going on in the writing of it.
BMW has since apologised for making it, but that doesn't detract the fact the context of the tweet was clearly an insult to the baby boomer generation (born between 1946-64) who are likely to be the core audience for the upper tier of the BMW range. Coincidently, the upper tier includes the iX... oopsie.
Nevertheless, this is the sort of behaviour that should never be tolerated if you're working for one of the biggest brands on the planet. It's not only unprofessional of BMW's marketing team, but plain rude. I sincerely hope that the tweet gets deleted soon because it's still there - available for viewing!
As per one of the topics highlighted in the video above by Robert Mitchell from Apex Nürburg, BMW's M division found themselves in a spot of bother when they uploaded a happy new year video featuring the M2 CS. Great, right?
Well, not quite. Someone on the editing team decided to dub in the engine note of a V10 that isn't theirs... awkward! It's especially awkward once you learn that for some time, that engine was heavily utilised by one of BMW's main rivals, Audi. (Although it is mostly synonymous with Lamborghini).
But still, you have to question why they didn't just apply a microphone to the back of an M2 and just record that instead? We will never know, but it was outright embarrassing from their perspective and the video was quickly deleted from their official social media accounts.
But more recently, can we have a discussion about their latest marketing technique of applying Pixar-style voices to their models? Because that idea appeared to be executed pretty terribly.
Once again, we see the two 'characters' (a 20 year old 760iL and new electric iX) arguing with each other about whose generation is superior. The persona of the 7-Series appears to poke quite a lot of fun at the older generation whereas the iX is trying to make a case for 'herself' with the advancement of new digital technology.
I don't know whether the video was to try and resolve the boomer tweet controversy (because the two characters did make friends in the end), but at the same time, the content of the video alone is enough to simply alienate viewers, fans of the brand and even potential customers.
Also, this is on BMW's official YouTube channel and the language used by the 7-Series is highly inappropriate for all-age viewing. I know that may sound a bit snowflake-y, but surely brand channels are supposed to be suitable for all audiences? The idea of two cars talking might be appealing to a child and the parent will find it awful when turning it off after hearing some swearing. Who knows what the intent of the script and story was here, but my lord was it weird!
Image: BMW Group Press
But with the electric-petrol conflict they seem to be doing aside, things continue to be odd with the traditional side of BMW.
This was especially evident with the launch of the 4-Series, the M3 and M4, which not only exemplify controversy on a styling perspective (they even got rid of the Hoffmeister kink on the 4!) but also controversy on a social level because people were begging BMW not to go ahead with the big grilles on those three models - especially after the concept 4 was unveiled at Frankfurt in 2019. And yet, they went ahead anyway and were met with extraordinary levels of backlash on all forms of social media.
I tried to be objective about the new M3 at first, saying it might age well and grow on us. But after what the marketing team has come out with recently, I've decided to delete it because I thought after making this article, it would look silly sitting there. The cars represent a lot of things that BMW M enthusiasts don't want (extra weight, higher price, a supposedly less engaging drive etc.) and yet here they are.
Also, I don't know if you've seen the video above, but they appear to have started a series in which they try to explain the criticisms given by fans. But it's still raising my eyebrows because I don't know about you, but doesn't Klaus look incredibly nervous when delivering his pieces to camera? It's almost as if he didn't want to be there. Also, why on earth is it portrait?
The marketing teams need re-evaluating urgently and if you were to ask me personally, some of their new models have to be either scrapped or re-worked. In the second half of this year, they have been the subject of not only marketing failures, but distrust from loyal followers of the BMW brand.
They need to look back to a better time: perhaps the 80s or 90s when the BMW name was booming among people wanting to be successful and synonymous with the slogan, 'The Ultimate Driving Machine' and came up with ingenious and engaging marketing techniques. They need to look back and think about what made them cool then, and how they can bring that magic into the modern era. Because at the moment, things are starting to crumble.