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When Jim McDowell and executives at BMW of North America set out to find a theme for the marketing of their newest "ultimate driving machine," one name stood out above the rest.

Bond. James Bond.

To launch the Z3 roadster, a two-seat convertible marketed at the luxury/performance car segment, VP-Marketing Mr. McDowell and his team searched for what would solidify and emphasize BMW's image while introducing the brand to a new audience of consumers. They settled on MGM/United Artists' "GoldenEye," the Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan as agent 007, the spy with a penchant for fast cars.

"This is such a fantastic product that it deserved more than a traditional launch," says Mr. McDowell, 42.

In the movie, released in November, the Z3 roadster replaced the Aston Martin as the new Bond car. A media blitz began with the Z3 appearing in "GoldenEye" trailers and two BMW TV spots, from Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, using film footage.

Dealers were sent "BMW 007 kits" and their customers were given an opportunity to preview both the movie and the car before either were released.

The result: BMW has shaken, not just stirred, the auto industry with unprecedented media exposure and awareness for the Z3, and BMW in the U.S. More than 16 million Americans saw the Z3 roadster on the big screen within the first four weeks of the movie's opening, and 100 Z3s sold out in two days after NBC's "Today Show" publicized the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog featuring the limited-edition model.

By the end of 1995, BMW dealer floor traffic had increased and more than 9,000 Z3s had been pre-ordered, exceeding a target of 5,000.

"Our hope was to establish the Z3 as an icon in the American cultural landscape," he says. "` GoldenEye' created all the excitement and the car did the rest."

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