BMW has long had an advantage over Mercedes-Benz and Lexus when it comes to maintenance and ownership costs that it has hardly ever advertised – free maintenance for the first four years of ownership. The secret will be no more as the company is about to unleash a major ad push behind the program known as BMW Ultimate Service.

The ads, done by BMW's ad agency, Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, which took BMW's whole ad account assignment last August, are set inside a BMW dealership and draw on comedy to depict the surprise and even incredulity that four years of free maintenance comes with every new Bimmer. In one spot, for example, a woman thinks the promise of free maintenance is a come-on, and she reminds the salesman that she is married. In another spot, a man buying a BMW thinks he has to give the salesman sports tickets in order to get the deal.

BMW's marketing chief Dan Creed says the ad campaign, for which there are 27 different possible endings to the vignettes between salesman and customer, is timed right for a market of luxury buyers, which, though seemingly fully recovered from the economic death march of 2008-2010, is still looking for value along with their luxury.

"The expectation and widely held belief that BMW has very expensive maintenance costs is still a big factor in why people bypass us when shopping, and we think we have a very efficient way of changing that perception here," says Creed. "Mercedes, Lexus, and our other competitors don't have this, and we are going to use it as a meaningful point of difference."

Scroll down below for more on BMW's upcoming ads and to watch the videos.
Creed, who came into the top marketing job at the end of 2010, is serious about maintaining the sales lead in the luxury category BMW achieved last year, as well as what he feels is the German brand's perceptual lead. "Our chief competitors [especially Audi] have come after us in various ways through advertising for a few years now... we don't go after them."

Could that change? Creed smirks and hints that he might have a few ads "in the drawer" that he can put on the air that would make his rivals think twice about poking the big bear in the luxury category. "There is one brand I can think of whose products have an awful lot of engineering and parts that it shares with its much lower priced division, [we think he is talking about Audi, though Creed stays non-specific to be gentlemanly] and I'd say that was a weakness in their competitiveness."

Don't Mess With Ultimate Driving Machine

Creed wants to make it clear that the ad direction he is leading will not stray from The Ultimate Driving Machine focus the company temporarily watered down in 2009 and 2010 when it ran advertising around the theme of "Joy."

The Canadian-born marketing director says that a recent brand ad featuring multiple BMWs should leave no question about his commitment to the theme and positioning that dates back to the early 1970s. The copy for the TV ad: "We don't make SUVs. We Don't Make Sports Cars. We don't make luxury sedans. We only make one thing. The Ultimate Driving Machine."

Bimmer lovers and buyers will be seeing more ads that feature specific innovations – such as heated steering wheels, BMW Connected Drive, rear- and side-view cameras, hands-free trunk opening, and the like.

But Creed also says that Bimmer lovers and buyers will be seeing more ads that feature specific innovations – such as heated steering wheels, BMW Connected Drive, rear- and side-view cameras, hands-free trunk opening, and the like. "We have long tortured our dealers by introducing a lot of innovations and then not talking about them, and then after the exclusivity with our suppliers expires, Lexus or some other rival will advertise them and the innovation message we could have claimed is lost," said Creed. "We are going to hit those messages more than we show cars taking curves and twisty roads, though we will do that from time to time as a reminder of how much fun BMWs are to drive."

Come August, watchers of the London Olympics will have a hard time missing BMW, an official sponsor, which has bought in excess of 200 TV spots as part of its buy.

Though Lexus, the perennial luxury sales leader is bouncing back strong after being short of cars last year after the Japanese earthquake, BMW is shooting again for the sale lead. All that Olympic exposure, plus the introduction of the new 3 Series already this year and the German company's resolve, Creed says, should be enough to keep the brand on top of the luxury car market for the second straight year.





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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 2 Years Ago
      Is getting 3 free oil changes really going to tilt the scale from some other brand to a BMW? I had this on my BMW and honestly never used it just because it was too much of a hassle to have to take the car and drop it off at the dealer. Now throw in a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty and you're talking.
        bmw_sucks
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        that's an overkill. If they give 10 yr/100,000 mile warranty, the warranty will last longer than the car.
        adam1keith1980
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        BMW will go bankrupt if they offer a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty.
          Twittavelli
          • 2 Years Ago
          @adam1keith1980
          Hence why I got rid of my 3 series for and infiniti.
      Drakkon
      • 2 Years Ago
      That was actually pretty funny. 'It happens all the time.' 'Really?' 'No.'
      wickedme91
      • 2 Years Ago
      Toyota gives 2 years free maintenance and most cars they sell costs much less than the cheapest BMW. And after the four years, BMW will make up for the free service in another year. I don't this is newsworthy....
        wickedme91
        • 2 Years Ago
        @wickedme91
        And I got lifetime maintenance for $900-1100 (for my mom's camry, my dad's tacoma and my sister's accord). And it is transferable!
      rmkensington
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have a 135i and love it. But this whole paid maintanence things is really not that big of a deal. In 4 years/50k miles your really not saving hardly anything versus another car maker. 3-4 oil changes, wipers, and cabin air filters are about the only thing you will need in most cases.
      leo
      • 2 Years Ago
      personally I really want the new 3-series price is just a bit too high for me to justify it, and I would have wanted one even more if there was a NA engine in the line up - but i can wait a few years to get one used
      joe shmoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      no cost brake pad replacement.......... Is there a limit on how often you can change them? cuz I'd destroy them if they were unlimited
      Ak74
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you afraid of warranty to be over just lease the car. Nobody can beat BMW lease offers .
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      bmw_sucks
      • 2 Years Ago
      4 free oil changes with a new BMW. yeppie! Don't worry though, they make up for it as soon as the 4yr/50000 mile maintenance expires. I paid more for my BMW's maintenance in year 5 than I paid for my Toyota in first 5 years. Even the brake pads cost four times as much to replace.
        tributetodrive
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bmw_sucks
        with a name like bmw sucks I realize nothing you can say will be non biased and is probably all made up.
          bmw_sucks
          • 2 Years Ago
          @tributetodrive
          Nope. I own a 2007 X5 3.0. And my anger towards BMW is because of the PIECE OF JUNK they made, and all the time it spends in repair shop. Not only does it cost me money, it is a big inconvenience for me to drop it off and pick it up from the dealership. I'm late for work or have to leave early. I have to share a ride with my wife whose office is at the other end of the city. Think of all the gas wasted.
          bmw_sucks
          • 2 Years Ago
          @tributetodrive
          And I'm not the only one. You can read the reviews on Edmunds http://www.edmunds.com/bmw/x5/2007/consumer-reviews.html?sub=suv
        Rick
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bmw_sucks
        Sorry, but once you said 'my Toyota' you lost all credibility with me. I just bought a CPO 335i and understand the costs but I have warranty for a few more years. There will be costs along the way and when warranty expires, sure. That's because this is NOT A TOYOTA. I bought a luxury car that is fast and leads it's class in handling. I did not buy a run-of-the-mill refrigerator. It's a simple understanding that engine, tech, materials, all cost. Toyota lacks or is at the bottom of those lists and will therefore be cheaper. I did not want a cheap car and understand you have to pay for what you want.
          bmw_sucks
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rick
          I'm sorry, but just because a BMW performs 10% better than a Toyota doesn't mean it should need 10 times more maintenance. It's not that much better in handling either. The only time I can tell a difference is around a corner. If I were blindfolded, I wouldn't be able to tell them apart. I also don't buy your argument that a BMW engine has higher manufacturing cost that a comparable engine. If you compare a naturally aspirated BMW I6 with Toyota's V6, they probably use same amount of material, need same amount of man hours to make. You might argue that since BMW doesn't have economies of scale like Toyota, it costs them more in R&D per engine. BMW is at the BOTTOM of "luxury" brands in term of reliability, build quality, interior finish, cost of maintenance, depreciation.
      adam1keith1980
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is an example of advertisement that is not telling the truth. The maintenance is not free; it is included in the purchase price. Generally, a BMW car is more expensive than its competitors because many features that are standard on the competitors are optional on a BMW. Additionally, a BMW is probably less reliable in the long term, so the ownership cost increases after “free” maintenance and warranty end. Lastly, there is still a debate on affects of long service intervals on the longevity of BMW cars. You probably save more money by buying an equivalent Lexus, paying for the shorter maintenance intervals, and driving it for 10+ years.
      ND2010
      • 2 Years Ago
      You guys are crazy--this isn't false advertisement. The maintenance goes beyond oil changes, think how much replacing just your break pads costs. Also, generally, a BMW price is not more expensive than its competitors. The prices you see online are not comparable to what you end up paying at the dealer--the only reason why you'd pay full price on one of these cars if you're really picky and custom build the entire thing. If you walk into a dealer odds are the BMW prices might be higher than say Audi or Infiniti, but the deals at BMW are better so I'm willing to say 8 out of 10 times it'll be cheaper to acquire/maintain a BMW than say an Audi or Infiniti (let's not even talk about Mercs bc those are even more expensive). When I was looking for a new bimmer last year I did go to other dealers and they all said the same thing: you'll pay less for a BMW than our car bc BMW will drop the price of its cars SIGNIFICANTLY to get them out of their lots and year after year be the #1 in cars sold. Take my example: the MSRP on my car was $59k--I paid 48.
      SloopJohnB
      • 2 Years Ago
      BMW's free maintenance is ok, but it's a ripoff if you plan to keep your car more than 4 years and 50K. And the resale value to a knowledgeable buyer plummets....BMW cut maintenance by at least 50% when they went to free maintenance compared to the published 'old school' maintenance.
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