BMW’s marketing and advertising have never been a group to let an audience down. Across the years, BMW have provided innovative ways in which to present their message of the Ultimate Driving Machine and despite having a number of global advertising firms that have represented this purpose over the years the messages have still endured. However, advertising can be an expensive endeavor – even for multi-billion Euro companies – and it is even more difficult to make each of those Euros work effectively becomes increasingly more difficult.
By the early 2000’s, the flood gates of the Internet and its role in everyone’s day-to-day lives was in full swing with the the web finally finding cohesive application and acceptance both for businesses and personal users. BMW, being the forward-thinking group they are, decided to take advantage of the Internet as a new tool for reaching consumers combined with the idea of a leaner, more effective advertising budget and premiered, via their website, BMW Films.
BMW Films was the brainchild of BMW North America’s marketing group in an effort to reach core buyers while continuing to appeal to a broader audience. The result was a series of five short films featuring a variety of celebrity actors along with celebrity directors behind the camera. Each film documenting another chapter in the life of a mysterious, nameless driver played by the then-relatively-unknown Clive Owen who embarked on a series of adventures as a paid driver-for-hire. “The Driver” is a fearless yet calculating driver for whom no contract is too dangerous and no car other than a BMW will do.
The first film to debut April 26, 2001 was simply titled Ambush. BMW wanted to let everyone know that they meant business as Ambush was led by the famed John Frankenheimer – the man behind the epic 1960’s Formula One-based blockbuster Grand Prix and the car chase-laden 1998 sleeper Ronin. For those that have seen Grand Prix or Ronin, you’ll know that John Frankenheimer was clearly the director of choice when it came to putting speeding cars to celluloid. Ironically, Ambush would end up being one of the last films of the celebrated director’s incredible career before his untimely death in 2002.
Ambush introduces us to The Driver as he pilots his Titanium Silver 2001 E38 740i Sport across a dark, damp back road in effort to get a timid yet devious little man to his destination. In route, they come under attack by a van full of armed thugs looking to take an unusually large amount of diamonds off of The Driver’s unfortunate passenger. What follows is a display of true performance driving, thumping power from the M62B44 V8 and its 282HP howling through the night and across the asphalt, and incredible camera work to make for an enjoyable miniature action flick for both BMW enthusiasts and car enthusiasts alike.
We plan to revisit each of the BMW Films mini-movies each week in the order of their original release as a way of showing the films to people who are just getting into the brand but also those of us who, after 9 years, still find themselves enamored by the BMW Films. We hope you enjoy!