After a long hiatus, BMW Films may come back in the near future. According to AdAge, BMW of North America is planning to bring back BMW Films, the pioneering short movies that made BMW a marketing genius back in early 2000s.
The branded films included A-List Hollywood directors/actors and helped BMW promote its Ultimate Driving Machines. Averaging about ten minutes each, a series eight short films produced for the internet viewing from 2001 to 2002. All eight films featured popular filmmakers from across the globe (Ang Lee, John Woo, Guy Ritchie and the late John Frankenheimer), starred Clive Owen as the “Driver”, and highlighted the performance aspects of various BMW automobiles.
The plots of each of the films differ, but one constant remains: Clive Owen plays “The Driver”, a man who goes from place to place (in presumably rented BMW automobiles), getting hired by various people to be a sort of transport for their vital needs. Many of you know Clive Owen as one of the Hollywood movie stars who played in Sin City, Inside Man, The International and Duplicity.
Other famous actors, singers or runway models were featured in the series: Mickey Rourke, Forest Whitaker, Adriana Lima, Madonna, Don Cheadle, Gary Oldman, James Brown or Marilyn Manson.
On April 26, 2002, John Frankenheimer’s Ambush premiered on the BMW Films website and, two weeks later, was followed by Ang Lee’s Chosen. Soon after, director Wong Kar-Wai was tapped to make a third film entitled The Follow, a dramatic piece about a runaway wife being followed by “The Driver”. The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and received rave reviews. It was followed by Guy Ritchie’s “Star” and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Powder Keg.
A team led by David Lubars and Bruce Bildsten at BMW’s former agency, Fallon, Minneapolis, created the idea for “The Hire” and wrote the scripts with input from directors such as Mr. Ritchie. David Fincher executive-produced.
The series has been very successful in terms of marketing and public awareness with BMW sales numbers go up 12% in 2001 from the previous year. The movies were viewed over 11 million times in four months. Two million people registered with the website and a large majority of users, registered to the site, sent film links to their friends and family. This was a time when Youtube hasn’t been born and video sharing wasn’t as easy.
Trudy Hardy, BMW’s new VP of marketing, said at the 2014 Automotive News World Congress in Detroit, the luxury automaker was planning to bring back BMW Films. But Ms. Hardy and BMW have declined to comment further.