BMW RETURNS TO NET TV IN ADS TOUTING 3 SERIES: $50 MIL BUDGET SUPPORTS FALLON CAMPAIGN TO RUN THROUGH JUNE '99

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BMW of North America is returning to network TV after a two-year hiatus to woo buyers for the 1999 3 Series, its best-selling line.

The marketer has a two-prong strategy: to continue touting 3 Series driving-performance virtues, while adding information about its safety, technology, roominess and price.

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Two spots from Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, break tonight during ABC's "NFL Monday Night Football." But the biggest push starts next week on fall series premieres, a flight running through the week of Oct. 5.

Steven Facini, VP-account director at DeWitt Media, New York, BMW's media buyer, said about 70% of the TV buy is network "to cast a larger net" for prospects.

"Dealers are very enthusiastic that BMW is going back to national network," he added.

BMW will spend more than $50 million advertising the car through the first half of 1999, said Jim McDowell, VP-marketing at BMW. He described the multimedia launch as the marketer's most ambitious ever.

RADIO SPENDING INCREASES

The carmaker also is beefing up radio spending, Mr. McDowell said.

Four radio spots will run regionally.

The media schedule includes banner ads on the Internet, magazine spreads, newspaper spreads and outboard boards.

The sedan version started trickling into dealerships in July, and 1,500 already have been sold. The cars start at $26,970, now mentioned in ads.

For the second consecutive year, Fallon shot TV spots in b&w.

The two spots use no narrator, only upbeat music, fast-moving images and words such as "Science. Technology. Engineering."

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