BMW TIE-IN A LICENSE TO SELL

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James Bond's latest mission: Help the BMW Z3 roadster crack the U.S. market.

Two commercials breaking nationally today on NBC and cable's VH-1: Video Hits One use cheeky humor and footage from "GoldenEye" to drive home the fact that the British superagent has traded in his Aston Martin for BMW's new two-seater convertible.

"GoldenEye," an MGM/UA release with Pierce Brosnan taking over the role of 007, premieres Nov. 13.

While the Z3 won't go on sale until Feb. 14, BMW is using the car's placement in the movie to begin building an aura of adventure and romance for the roadster, said Jim McDowell, VP-marketing at BMW of North America.

BMW will also use the publicity surrounding the movie to generate customer orders for the car, expected to start just under $30,000. BMW dealers will invite prospects to come in and view pre-production versions the day after the premiere.

The Z3 commercials, along with a new 7-Series spot that began airing last week, represent the first major work since Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, in March replaced Mullen, Wenham, Mass., on the $60 million auto ad creative portion of BMW's business.

The lighthearted Bond commercials fit the goal of leaving the BMW image stirred, not shaken. Mr. McDowell said the idea is to put a friendlier spin on the BMW image, without compromising its reputation for outstanding performance.

"We'd like to communicate in a friendly and surprising way that puts a little smile on people's faces when they hear `BMW,"' Mr. McDowell said.

In one spot, a series of astonished newspaper readers comes across a classified ad selling a car with rocket launchers, ejecter seats and sterling silver champagne coolers.

The second spot shows a fictional scene in which members of Britain's House of Lords lament that the country's most famous secret agent has switched cars. Movie scenes featuring the car are interspersed in both commercials.

In addition to the national effort, dealer ad groups in major markets began airing the commercials Oct. 28.

Mr. McDowell said BMW will break new creative with more focus on product features when the Z3 is officially introduced in February. The car will be assembled at BMW's plant in Spartanburg, S.C., and will be exported around the world.

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