Omnicom Group's Merkley & Partners, New York, had held BMW Motorrad's account since early 1998, but did not defend. Merkley's contract, which included creative, planning, strategy and online, expired May 1. Media buying, not part of the review, has been handled by sibling Icon International, Stamford, Conn., for the past two years.
Guerilla, interactive and Web work
Concept Farm won the account because of its capabilities in guerilla, interactive and Web work, said Laurence Kuykendall, the marketing communications manager at BMW Motorrad USA, who led the review. Mr. Kuykendall, a motorcycle enthusiast, joined the marketer in 2001 from Merkley, where he had been account supervisor on BMW Motorcycles. He said Merkley lost key players on the account who were motorcycle aficianados -- one of BMW's mandates to maintain authenticity in its advertising.
The brand plans to boost its online presence, because word-of-mouth among riders is more effective and more efficient than advertising, he said. "Not that we are anti-advertising," he said, because he plans to continue traditional advertising to build brand awareness. BMW's online "GS Open House" spring event outpaced its expectations of roughly 8,000 registrations by attracting 20,000 opt-ins.
Xplor brand concept
But the 35-person Concept Farm will step up BMW's so-called Xplor, a brand concept developed three years ago by Merkley to build a community of riders. "It's not a club," Mr. Kuykendall said. Xplor will offer rider-training programs and information about where to rent or ride BMW motorcycles all around the world.
Mr. Kuykendall said this was the first pitch he has led as a client and he did it without a consultant. He sifted through more than 40 books from agencies who vied for the account.