BMW recycles ads to highlight its recycled cars

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The Background

When you’re launching any kind of major marketing campaign in the automotive industry, you know it’s going to be a big-ticket item. 

And with luxury cars, no drop in quality is acceptable to marketer or customer alike when the very essence of the product is all about premium values. 

So how did BMW come up with a clever and cost-effective solution for a recent campaign in the USA for the launch of its BMW Certified Pre-Owned programme?

The Big Idea

In a nutshell – recycling! 

In these ever-greener days, the whole idea of reusing something that still has life in it has been extended into marketing. This whole campaign is made up of TV, outdoor, radio and digital assets that ran five years ago. 

Why five years I hear you say? 

Well the BMW Certified programme is about dealers selling pre-owned BMWs that are no older than five years old. So why not rerun the launch assets for those cars, but give them a new twist? It’s certainly cheaper; it already has the essential BMW DNA crafted in; and reinforces the quality of the product by positioning the cars as ‘good as new’. And who amongst us does not want to be seen as greener?



What They Did

The first issue here was the fact that the current BMW agency in the States is not the one which created the original campaign. I’m sure a certain amount of negotiation and collaboration had to happen before the executions could even leave the launchpad. 

Despite the lead currently being shown at the very top of American life from ‘the Don’ himself and his current battles with Nance and Chuck, it’s good to see that some groups CAN actually talk and get things sorted. (Note to our own politicians re Brexit).

All the TV spots use the same edit as the original launch ads for those very same cars five years previously, but a new voice over has been created making the point that this is a reused ad. As the commentary states: "We saved so much money recycling this ad we can run it as much as we like – just like the money you'll save on a certified BMW." There’s a sense of honesty in the way the voice-over is delivered which gives them a fresh personality and feel of today.

The Review

As an agency creative, I’m not sure I feel happy about companies rerunning old campaigns instead of creating new ones and keeping lots of people in gainful employment. However, I have to say I quite like the thinking. 

If I was presenting the idea to the client, it would be very hard to argue against the cost savings which I’m sure BMW USA loved, and the new agency has done a nice job with the creative positioning and messaging in my humble opinion. This slightly more honest advertising is not a new thing, or recycling old campaigns, but voting for your favourite campaign from brand x is not quite as creative as this.

It did make me wonder if other brands on this side of the pond may be tempted to go down this route in the post-Brexit apocalypse. Would Sainsbury’s ever run some of the famous Jamie Oliver ads revoiced where he points out that there are now vegan alternatives to this tasty chicken dish he is whipping up? Or would Cadbury rerun the historic gorilla ad with an added voice pointing out that drumming is a great way to work off the calories so no need to worry about eating chocolate in today’s world? Who knows? But I think I may have struck on a new game for us ad creatives to play!

In Hindsight

Haven’t seen any activity of this from within dealerships, but would have been interesting to see if there were any creative exploitations at dealership level. Like recycling clothes you’ve had for five years. Bring them in the boot of the car you’re trading in and BMW recycles them with a homeless charity to use again.

Not much to redo in terms of the execution, but I did like the delivery of the voiceover. But it’s the thinking behind the idea that I’m giving my score for. Well done the planners (I assume) on this one.

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Andy MacKenzie

Andy MacKenzie

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