One of the first offerings from BMW's new ad agency is a full page broadsheet newspaper ad for the new BMW Z4 sports car. It took me a few minutes to actually get to a point where I thought I understood what it was getting at. And then, it was only when I stood back from it and looked at the ad from a distance that I realised it was indeed a woman's figure made from pages taken from a road map book.
I thought it was very clever. But frankly, I would have preferred to see what the new BMW Z4 sports car looks like because however pretty the picture in this ad and however creative the concept might be, it still left me wondering what the damn car looked like.
Now the problem I have with commenting on BMW advertising is that having worked for the company for so long, whether I say I like an ad or hate it, I always get accused of being biased either because I suffer from the 'things were always better when I was there' syndrome or because I am seen to be a die-hard, loyal BMW old boy. Which I am, very much so, in spite of the fact that I drive a Merc.
So, what I have done is e-mail half a dozen marketers, some corporate, some independent, some in the motor industry and most not. But all very experienced. They wouldn't comment unless I promised anonimity as all them either have motor industry clients, ad agency clients, or the like. And frankly, I have found it quite refreshing being able to quote anonymous sources when virtually all the criticism of what I write on this site comes anonymously.
Anyway, the reactions of my highly experienced but anonymous marketers were all pretty similar. They believe the ad is basically crap.
When I explained the bit about sitting back from the ad to really get the picture, they all said that first of all newspaper readers don't bother to put their newspapers down on the floor and get on ladders or chairs to try and work things out.
They also said that readers, viewers and listeners, simply did not have the time or inclination in today's ad-cluttered and busy world, to work anything out even it did not mean having to climb onto chairs and ladders.
Two or three mentioned that the ad was clearly contrived to fit in with the slogan for campaigns on the new Z4 - 'The Sum Of All The Senses'. They suggested that in conceiving the ad, that line might well have been the departure point.
Avoid Showing Product
But all of them, young and old, asked the question I have been asking for years ...why is it that motor car manufacturers seem to avoid at all costs actually showing in ads what their products look like?
I must say no-one was particularly complimentary. The most concise reaction being 'I thought it was a creative wank!' Even for Z4 drivers. It took me a more than a little intuition and even more time that the average reader (even allowing for post- or pre-purchase interest) to work out the outline of a woman's body, back and curves.
'It does sweet nothing to brand build and is a creative indulgence wasting the client's money and contributing nothing to brand equity. I suppose a novel alternative to the nude on the bonnet of a Lotus...'
Part of Campaign
From my point of view, this ad would work if it was part of a far wider campaign involving TV and radio particularly. And then only if the TV showed what the car looked like and the radio explained what made it better than anything else on the roads.
But, just on its own, it doesn't make sense at all, not economically and not from a marketing perspective.
Apart from being a corporate marketing analyst, advisor and media commentator, Chris Moerdyk is a former chairman of Bizcommunity. He was head of strategic planning and public affairs for BMW South Africa and spent 16 years in the creative and client service departments of ad agencies, ending up as resident director of Lindsay Smithers-FCB in KwaZulu-Natal. Email Chris on and follow him on Twitter at @chrismoerdyk.
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This related article in artthrob-
From arthrob.co.za: "Artists are no strangers to copyright issues, certainly no more than ad agencies are familiar with art. In recent years Gillian Wearing, Andy Goldsworthy and Damien Hirst have all locked horns with corporates and received a few payouts between them.One of the more famous cases of this is that of the 2003 Honda Cog ad which Fischli and Weiss claim appropriated generously from their 1987 Der Lauf der Dinge. The inspiration of this series of cause and effect events, admit Fischli and Weiss, were the inventions of Rube Goldberg, a San Francisco city engineer turned Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist. Their movie was also the inspiration behind a Trashcan Sinatras music video from 1991. Just who really copied whom becomes murky and intellectual copyright hovers around quite uncertainly. Honda, incidentally, took six months and spent $6 million dollars on the ad.
Shaun de Waal in Friday's Mail & Guardian accuses the producers of this ad of plagiarising the work of an artist whose work was exhibited in Warren Siebrits' gallery. He goes so far as to suggest that the artist should sue the agency.
'Twas only last week in this erstwhile publication that a huge controversy was raging over the Mad Buzz campaign, using women to sell a product, that all the creatives thought was so bad. Now, basically the same thing is OK with the creatives. Go figure. (The ad is crap - its not going to shift product)
hold on to your velskoene chris-THERES NO PRODUCT SHOT!!!!-
they may have put product shot of an ox wagon in ads in your day and spelt everything conceptual out for you but the dumb dumb ship has sailed boetie.advertising is changing-because EVERYTHING has been done.this ad is fresh and S-M-A-R-T.ireland-davenport is about to kick some serious ass in the industry.get a life chris-you shouldnt be thinking so hard at your age.
how unfair, mike, to just asume chris is thinking hard. if he took the time out to think at all, he wouldn't be writing the crap he's written in the past 10 years. the man is embarrasingly parochial and narrow-minded. someone should put him out of his misery
Chris Moerdyk (now there's a name for you). Is a bit like Barry Ronge. These idiots get paid to make publish an opinion criticizing something they are unable to do themselves. Bur unlike other critics, they fail to control their bias. Pathetic, really.
Like someone said: CRITICS ARE TO ART (MOVIES/ADVERTISING/BOOKS, etc.) WHAT PIGEONS ARE TO STATUES...
Well,there we have it now. This is just a carbon copy of the entire ad indusrty: Off-spring of an insanely successful creative agency start up and gets the big account as a result of hype, then has to produce the goods so they go on tilt creatively and just shoot over everybodies heads. Then comes the critisizm.
Good job though Chris, 16 years of experience and an in-depth knowledge of the brand. Believe me when I can see the ad is crap, and you say the ad is crap, is it not crap? Is a rose by any other name...
if it wasn't for you Chris, I wouldn't have known that the road maps actually depict a woman's body. believe me, I looked at the ad for a while. Ireland-Davenport, i'm not sure about this one boys !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it was a waste of paper and money.
Actully the ad really doesn't do much justice to the brand. I've seen the ad more than 5times and couldn't figure out what it was about. As a Beemer driver (4months) this left me confused rather than interested. I guess this was just a waste of money...
I just think it would have been better with a bird or two in the background, you know. Perhaps some bird seed near the logo. Come on Poppets, why the f&*k must I always be the one coming up with all the good f&*king ideas?
The campaign will undoubtedly include the radio and TV elements you mentioned. There you will surely be able to see what the vehicle looks like, inside and out.
I would also assume that the potential Z4 Coupe target market would either have seen the vehicle in a car test before or will seek further information once their emotions have been stirred by this creative concept.
Many people buy cars not only on the looks of the vehicle, but rather based on a certain emotional "feel" they subscribe to. This is exactly what this ad is going for and in my opinion it is a great deal more effective than the usual "car driving down a tree-lined road with leaves blowing in the wind" type of execution.
not everyone is a critic, but everyone is a consumer, and hopefully consumers will see this for the pretentious, obvious, bit of nonsense that it is. so much for the sweeping broom of the new creative genius, just another bunch of post network babies reproducing the obtuse nonsense that aggravates consumers and crawls up the tightly clenched backsides of the creative circle saddos. welcome home boys.
I completely disagree. It is very important to show your product and most marketers are aware of this.
I agree with Chris that this ad is clever but possibly too clever. I am not only a car lover (and trust me, you DO buy a car because of what it looks like and not only the emotional feel!!!!), but also a marketer and as far as I am concerned, you develope far more of an attachment to something that you can see, rather than something you don't.
Anyway, thumbs up to the new agency, they did very well and the idea was definitely good. I just don't think that it was the best idea for the Z4.
ok, so once you have figured out that the roadmap is the outline of a woman's body, which I did, can anyone figure out the message they are trying to convey? Are they advertising to Woman or men? Men - is the message then something like - that driving this new car is as pleasurable, smooth etc. as the curves of a woman's body? Women - I can't imagine what message they are trying to send to women? Isn't this a women's car...? Any comments?
Hey Confused, at least you figured out it was a woman's body! Thank goodness for Chris or I would still be in the dark! ...and I'm in the industry!
If you thought this one was confusing, you should check out the magazines that have come out with others ... there is one with milk bottles (I think)?
Anyway, Im not by all means 'dissing' the creativity of the ads, they are there but guys, isn't the point that you want to sell BM's? I can tell you in a heartbeat that if I wasn't in the industry, I would not have wasted my time trying to figure out the ad - and Im also the right target market for the BM!
and says, bad boys, you've been very bad. Not only have you ripped off a rather famous Dutch campaign but you have produced a mountain of poo. Are you paying the guys at BMW back handers or what? Is this the turgid nonsense that won the pitch? Any worse and you'll get a bloody Loerie, then it's a long slow slide into the advertising fold. Hurrah.
As a new owner (last month) I have absolutely no idea what the new advertising is about. I drive a beemer because of classic ads like the mouse on the wheel ad and Beats the Benz. Agencies try and be creative, actually they waste the cleints money Mike