I bumped into Dr. Oetker in the frozen food aisle of our local super market.
BB: Hello Dr. Oetker, fancy running into you here!
DO: Where else would you expect to see me? What’s cooking?
BB: Well, the latest buzz is that BMW is possibly supplanting their long standing North American ad slogan of, “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, and replacing it with a new theme revolving around the term. “Joy”.
DO: Yes, “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, that’s one of the all time greats. Kind of like the GM slogan, “Pontiac: We Build Driving Excrement”.
BB: That was, “We Build Driving Excitement”.
DO: Oh, no wonder Pontiac owners looked at me askance when I quoted that to them.
BB: Joy is a difficult word in the English language. It has both secular and sacred connotations. It can mean pleasure, a feeling of well-being, success, and, alternatively, an emotional connectedness to the moment, or the religious notion of the ‘peace that passeth all understanding’.
DO: It’s much simpler than that. Joy is ice cream.
BB: That’s just it. The simplistic joy can be anything positive that occurs. A comfortable burp, a cold soda in summer, a spirited drive on a twisting country lane.
DO: I’m sticking with ice cream.
BB: Yes, you would. Now I’m aware that in Germany the BMW slogan is “Freude am Fahren”. Which translates, roughly, to “Driving Pleasure”. So the joy of driving could well be used.
DO: True, but joy is universal – especially when we’re talking about ice cream.
BB: That’s just it. The generality of joy does not lend itself to a description of what a BMW is without modifiers. In our case, the apt slogan would be, “The Joy of Driving”.
DO: True, and my favorite, “The Joy of Driving for Ice Cream”.
BB: Too many modifiers, Herr Doktor. But the downside to this is what happens if joy is used to describe something other than the driving experience of a BMW. Say, “the joy of a dog in the car with you”.
DO: Dogs love trucks!
BB: That’s Nissan’s line, if I remember correctly. But speaking of trucks, how does BMW remain focused on its core image and ends up building vehicles like the X3, X5, X6 and the 5er GT?
DO: Well, I like trucks too. They can haul of lot of ice cream. But back to BMW’s intentions for its image; what seat are they selling?
BB: Excuse me?
DO: Is the driver’s seat or the passenger’s seat the focus of BMW?
BB: Oh almost unequivocally the driver’s seat. Though you might say the 5er GT, and possibly the long wheelbase 7s stretch that.
DO: Nice pun, but watch it – that’s my shtick. And I have a bone to pick with you about using ‘zaftig’ in an article, by the way.
BB: I was hoping you’d indulge me that, Herr Doktor.
DO: Well – this once maybe. Now back to the hot seat.
BB: Yes, right. Well as long as BMW’s focus is on the driver’s seat, then regardless of the slogan, it will be good. If the engineering efforts are on, say, the pursuit of perfection, then are they building a driver’s car or an ultimate people mover?
DO: I think a LexisNexis search may be in order to answer that question.
BB: So in the end, you’re OK with moving away from, “the Ultimate Driving Machine”?
DO: As long as they explain what joy means to them, provide the focus of where the joy is derived from if you will, then it will be fine. Now come talk to me when they decide to replace their creamy in-line six cylinder engines with plain vanilla V6s. Then we’ll have a real long talk.
BB: Good to talk to you as always Dr. Oetker.
DO: Oh look! Frozen pudding . . .
And the good Dr. wanders off for today . . .