BMW Teams Up With TaylorMade for Ad Within an Ad

Automaker liked results of U.S. Open effort so much, plans similar spots for fall football

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BMW ads aired during U.S. Open coverage on NBC and the Golf Channel in June came with a distinct twist. The spots were typical "Ultimate Driving Machine" commercials for the 7 series and other models until the end -- when viewers suddenly saw a TaylorMade R1 driver banging a TaylorMade golf ball off a tee.

TaylorMade's R1 driver showed up in BMW ad.
TaylorMade's R1 driver showed up in BMW ad.

It's not often you see an ad within an ad. But BMW liked the product-placement strategy by ad agency Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners so much that it wants to use it during NFL and college-football coverage later this year. Both BMW and TaylorMade-Adidas Golf declined to say if -- or how much -- TaylorMade paid to integrate products within BMW's commercials.

TaylorMade recently tapped a new global agency of record, San Francisco-based Eleven, after a review. Eleven was not involved with the ad.

Trudy Hardy, department head of BMW marketing communications and events, described them as "animated end-tags."

"We really love the way that this can bring our creative some relevance into the media placement itself," said Ms. Hardy. The product-placement idea grew out of BMW's advertising and media strategy for NBC's coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, she added. BMW inserted end-tags in 13 Olympic spots to better transition into specific sports such as swimming, gymnastics and boxing. Dealers liked it. So BMW started looking for ways to expand on it.

The end-tags on the Olympic spots, however, were simply generic images of swimmers or gymnasts or congratulatory messages to athletes. The TaylorMade product placements marked the first time BMW strategically partnered with a sports brand, according to Ms. Hardy. BMW and TaylorMade are planning similar spots for coverage of the automaker's BMW Championship golf tournament in September.

TaylorMade touts its R1 as the No. 1 driver on the PGA Tour. TaylorMade spent nearly $30 million on ads in 2012, according to Kantar. More than $12 million of it went to support the R1.

But some golf customers were reluctant to buy it due to its distinctive white clubhead. When TaylorMade decided to introduce a black line driver, the timing lined up nicely with the U.S. Open. The line extension hit stores at a suggested retail price of $299.99 just before the tournament got underway at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., in June, said Brad Holder, senior director of U.S. marketing.

While viewers may have noticed the unique-looking BMW spots, the best product placement of all came when English golfer Justin Rose, who plays all TaylorMade clubs including a white R1 driver, won the tournament.