BMW 3 Series: Jim McDowell

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BMW of North America's 3 Series entry-level luxury line keeps bringing newcomers to the brand. The line sold 71,738 units between January and August this year, up 31% over the same period a year ago.

"After they buy their first BMW, it's relatively easy to sell them their second or third," says Jim McDowell, 49, VP-marketing at the German car marketer. He says 3 Series buyers are on the average seven to 10 years younger than buyers of comparable near-lux models of Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus and DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz. "3 Series has defined that segment. We pull people to this category before any of our competition."

BMW also has likely started to reap the rewards of its"Ultimate Driving Experience" tours, started in 1998 for the 3 Series. The carmaker has expanded the program, and now offers some 60,000 consumers 2 hours behind the wheel with a driving pro. Meanwhile, it hasn't pulled the plug on traditional ads. The 3 Series was fueled by $27.6 million in measured media last year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

McDowell, who was marketing director of Porsche AG before joining BMW in 1993, adds that his company hasn't cut back on media spending in 2001. Publicis Groupe's Fallon, Minneapolis, handles.

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