AdSpotting: No Joy in Bimmerville

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.

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