Company: BMW of North America

Medium: TV and the Internet

Ad Agency: Kirschenbaum, Bond, Senecal + Partners

Product: 2012 BMW 3 Series

Campaign: "The Ultimate Driving Machine"

What We Like: There is no joy in Bimmerville. Not any more. In truth, BMW has not really been advertising "Joy of Driving," or "Joy" anything, for about a year. It had already returned to using the world's best ad slogan, "The Ultimate Driving Machine," after many months of defending "Joy," as well as some executive changes. But a new ad effort for the all-new 3 Series puts UDM center stage again in a way that underscores the company's commitment to an ad slogan everyone seems to love.

There are six video shorts running mostly on the web, but also as TV ads. In fact, one of the shorts, touting the car's system that reads email aloud to the driver, ran as a local ad during the Super Bowl. Each "short" ad, which focuses on a single feature of the car, ends with a hunky-sounding voiceover asserting with no doubt in his voice: "We only make one thing. The Ultimate Driving Machine."

BMW has a raft of new products coming this year and next, as well as rolling out two complex platforms of technology – EfficientDynamics and BMW ConnectDrive. It seems like a good idea to spotlight one product benefit per ad the way this campaign does, and have each play off a few bigger TV ads for the 3 Series that focus on the image of the whole car, and its reputation as the best sports sedan in the world.

What We Don't Like: The focus on individual features like a heated steering wheel, adjustable seats or emails read aloud in the car seems more Volkswagen than BMW. The voiceover sounds like he drinks whiskey, but the overall feel of the ads and the focus on "fun features" feels more Brandy Alexander.

We note that Cadillac advertised its soon-to-be launched ATS sedan during the Super Bowl, and referred to the 3 Series as "The best in the world." We are looking for more ads from BMW's new ad agency that have some guts, majesty and the faint aroma of burning rubber and brake dust.

Strategy: BMW seems to shy away form the guts, grit and red-blooded desire for a great driving machine that is the heart of its brand image. Yeah, yeah... we know... women are looking for a more approachable BMW. Married men need for their wives to bless the Bimmer purchase. And this collection of video shorts is a step in the right direction. A 30-second ad that shows us the 3 Series zipping around city streets and hairpin turns is even a bigger step as the TV spot also spotlights the 3's surprising 36 mpg highway few economy. We'd still like to see BMW guts and glory show a nit more often.

Grade: A-

Watch the ads after the jump and give them your own grade below.

Which grade would you give these ads?
A 818 (25.3%)
B 731 (22.6%)
C 645 (19.9%)
D 334 (10.3%)
F 707 (21.9%)

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      I love how at the end the narrator says "We only make one thing: the ultimate driving machine." Yet none of these commercials have ANYTHING to do with that tagline. By themselves the commercials are cute, and would be great for selling the Camry. But for a BMW these show just how far the brand is straying from its roots.
        • 3 Years Ago
        ""We only make one thing: the ultimate driving machine." that's BMW's brand tagline. Just like "the relentless pursuit of perfection" or "advance"
      Ham Hock
      • 3 Years Ago
      These commercials are terrible. If you're going to bring back "The Ultimate Driving Machine" as your slogan, shouldn't the commercials have something to do with driving? These commercials were entirely incongruous with their slogan, and simply pointed out the doldrums of domestic life and gadgetry. Fail.
      teh POD
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't get how any of these highlight that a BMW is the Ultimate Driving Machine.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @teh POD
        They really don't, but sadly, the modern consumer seldom cares.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is really sad. Of all the votes, A was the winner. Well, BMW was right and the marketers are spot on for modern USA. It looks like a majority of those "I want to be one with my car and drive on the Autobahn and be in control of my destiny" tough guys really are looking for a more approachable BMW. Of course, all you have to do is look at the low buy rate for manual transmission cars, and you know where the trend has gone.
      • 3 Years Ago
      All of those convenience features had nothing to do with driving. F.
      • 3 Years Ago
      How can you give this Commercial A- rating AB? Total Nonsense. Just like you said, these might be appropriate for VW and Toyotas of the world, but this strategy just doesn't fit the brand BMW strives for (well.. I hope it isn't) For me, your credibility of judgement goes down with it, AB.
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      I gave them a C. The commercials themselves aren't bad at all and are acually pretty funny, but they REALLY need to focus on the driving dynamics more and stop being so obsessed with all the gadgets.
      Eta Carinae
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can't believe all these people live at the same house ! Lol :P
      • 3 Years Ago
      how does this get an A-?! The ads are boring and it only highlights what every other "premium" car offers in it's class ... all it is really saying is "oh, look ... we have the same thing everyone else does!" ... they need to go back the older spots where the driving dynamics of the car is the star ... THAT is what sells a BMW.
        • 3 Years Ago
        In modern USA, possibly driving dynamics DO NOT matter to the typical consumer/leaser. Sad, but times have changed.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I give these ads F for failing to mention that all these features are optional upgrades.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I just built a 328i with options shown in all these ads. It's only an additional $5850.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Apparently the driving experience isn't a primary selling point for "the ultimate driving machine"
        • 3 Years Ago
        Sadly, that is true. Most USA buyers today just don't care.
      • 3 Years Ago
      wow heated steering wheel and memory seats. Those are such cool new features that I've never seen in any other car...
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