New BMW hits road in ad blitz $17 million push picks up theme from X5 effort

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BMW of North America's new 3 series' convertible commercials may arouse a sense of deja vu.

That's because the commercials carry the same look and feel of spots that launched BMW's first sport utility during this year's Super Bowl. Two new spots for the 2000-model convertible carry the same theme line as the X5 SUV spots: "It's not a feeling you can get every day. Or is it?"

Baba Shetty, manager of marketing communications at BMW, said "you'll see a family resemblance" in the ads for the two vehicles. The spots for both products attempt to show the exhilaration of driving the vehicles. He hinted that new branding commercials due this fall might also incorporate the theme. "We're considering all options."


BMW will spend $17 million on the 3 series convertible's TV and print campaign.

The commercials for the 323Ci convertible and X5 were filmed at the same time in New Zealand, said Bruce Bildsten, group creative director on the account at Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis. "These are very different vehicles, but they're the most escape-oriented vehicles in BMW's lineup," he said.

Both 30-second spots are "kind of visceral," to try to convey the thrill of driving a convertible, but they're more intimate than the X5 commercials, said Mr. Bildsten. In one, a woman rises from a deserted pond deep in the woods. In the other, a man throws a glider airplane into the air from a treetop and watches it soar.


The TV blitz breaks May 7 on national cable and spot TV in BMW's top markets, said Steve Facini, senior VP-group director at Optimedia, New York. TV will continue through early June. A single print ad from Fallon appears in May magazines and continues into summer. The buy includes Conde Nast Traveler, Fast Company, Fortune, Travel & Leisure and Vanity Fair, along with auto enthusiast titles.

The convertible marks the third 3 series model with a face-lift. BMW launched the redesigned sedan in 1998 and the coupe last summer. The marketer recently introduced the first 3 series sports wagon in the U.S. via newspaper ads.

The 3 series lineup is the most popular in the marketer's stable. BMW sold 70,581 of 3 series cars last year, up 44.8% from 48,758 in 1998, according to Automotive News. First-quarter 2000 sales of the models totaled 18,729, up 23.6% from 15,148 for the comparable 1999 period.


Four BMW dealers said they are already sold out of the new 3 series convertibles, which start at $35,560. The dealers said they can't get enough of all BMW models to meet demand. Dealer Erhard Dahm in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., has a 323Ci convertible demo model and a waiting list of 40 buyers. But, he said, "that's a good thing."

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