Campaign: The Ultimate Advertising Machine

By Published on .

Most Popular
Now that broadband web access is no longer the stuff of nerd fantasy, what exactly are advertisers supposed to do with it? Well, if you've got the right merchandise and plenty of money to burn, why not put on a star-studded show? Hence the virtual multiplex at, with Fallon/New York in the driver's seat. "People who buy BMWs don't sit down in front of the tube a lot, so TV doesn't reach them," says Fallon ACD Bruce Bildsten, which is why he joined AD David Carter and CW Joe Sweet to create the internet film campaign. The team wrote three of the scripts and farmed out the others to screenwriters. "Short films work on the internet, but most short-film sites are kind of goofy," says Bildsten. "We felt we could do a great big film in miniature." They convinced their BMW clients and started trolling for talent, lying in wait for various hot directors, hoping for a feature project to fall through or a work lull to appear. "We were very opportunistic," says Bildsten. "What was cool was that we weren't asking for long commitments; they could be in and out in a month, where they're used to committing two years of their life."

The search was incredibly successful, with John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Guy Ritchie, and Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu signing on. Each film stars Clive Owens as a driver-for-hire who gets involved with the plight of his passenger in some way, saving a young Tibetan boy from enslavement or falling for the wife he's been hired to follow. The quick turnaround for these rather complex short films required some intensive postproduction. Andrew Hardaway at Santa Monica's Radium worked on "Ambush" and "Chosen," in which digital additions included muzzle fire, reflections in the sheet metal, and even the bullet holes in the car. "The role of visual effects was to help maintain that level of feature-film intensity and action in something that had to shoot in a fraction of the time and also had a fraction of the preparation," he says.

At press time, all the films but Inarritu's were released at, where users have the option of downloading the BMW Film Player for a premium viewing experience. The Film Player also shows background on the movies and the directors and a short subplot mystery vaguely related to the films, directed by newcomer Ben Younger of Boiler Room fame. The subplots include directions for phone numbers or websites that provide clues, A.I.-style, to augment the information in the films. "In getting the major directors involved, the campaign went away from being interactive and became very cinematic," says Younger. "The subplots are internet-specific and that's what I'm proud of." The resolution and production value of the films, along with the interactivity of the subplots and behind-the-scenes peeks, promise a new life for internet advertising, but Bildsten isn't celebrating yet. "I don't think that every advertiser could do this. The thing about BMW is that it's a product that could work its way into a film without being intrusive. It might be more difficult with laundry detergent or insurance."

Client: BMW Agency: Fallon ECD: David Lubars ACD: Bruce Bildsten CW: Joe Sweet Agency Producer: Robyn Boardman/Michael Aaron Interactive CD: Kevin Flatt Interactive AD: Kevin Flatt/Brooke Posard/Mark Sandau Interactive CW: Chuck Carlson Designers: Brooke Posard/Mark Sandau Photographer: Mark LaFavor/Shawn Michenzi Illustrator: Anderson Imaging

Ambush by John Frankenheimer

The director of one of the best movie car chases ever, in Ronin, isn't afraid to draw on that skill once again. The stony-faced Owens picks up a diamond importer. When diamond thieves speed alongside the car and demand the jewels at gunpoint, the passenger tells Owens that he's swallowed his wares and he begs the driver to make a run for it, or the thieves will gut him for his baubles. Though he's initially reluctant, Owens puts the pedal to the metal to save his timid client, and a hubcap-popping car chase ensues, with bullets flying. Guess who wins.

The Chosen by Ang Lee

The driver greets a small Tibetan boy disembarking from a boat, and brings him to the home of an older Tibetan monk, after the requisite car chase. The child seems frightened, and Owens notices that the monk is wearing cowboy boots beneath his robe. After the heroic chauffeur leaves, he snoops around and observes monks bound and gagged in a corner room, prompting him to go in and retrieve the child just as the cowboy-booted monk is coming at his charge with a syringe full of menacing liquid. Motor oil?

The Follow by Wong Kar-Wai

Owens is hired by a movie star (Mickey Rourke, in a stretch) to follow his ostensibly adulterous wife. After Forrest Whitaker puts in an appearance as Rourke's right-hand man, the wife goes to the airport for a flight to Brazil. Waiting to leave, she goes to the bar, where she falls asleep. The driver, clearly taken with her, sits at her side and watches her sleep, noticing the black eye hidden beneath her sunglasses. He returns his fee and refuses to continue the job. But he looks really cool driving away in a tunnel.

Star by guy ritchie

A bitch on wheels of a pop star, played by Guy-gal Madonna, gets into a BMW and berates the driver for not moving quickly enough; she wants to evade her bodyguards in the decoy car behind them. As she applies lipstick, she holds a cup of coffee between her legs. Not smart. Owens takes her whiny lip literally and floors it. When they reach the concert venue, she's thrown from the car and lies panting on her back on the red carpet in rigid mortification, her coffee-sodden crotch getting the paparazzi treatment.