A long time ago, back in the old-school days of BMW that so many current enthusiasts miss, BMW used to be pretty bold when it came to print advertising. BMW’s advertisements would challenge other automakers, evoke lust and even sexuality, and BMW would even go as far as to say that BMW was a “Man’s car”. The Bavarians were not afraid to just lay it out there. But things change, FCC is stricter than ever and the amount of regulations around advertising is at an all-time high.
So BMW has tapered off a bit on its chest pounding and seems to take a softer approach now. The BMW ads of yore used to feature BMW showing off the newest technologies and engineering prowess buy balancing one E36 on another windscreen, or showing off how an E36, with its new stability control, could drive in perfect circles without slipping while an Audi A4 couldn’t. Calling out the A4 wasn’t the only jab at Audi. There was the ad that congratulated Audi on winning the South African Car of The Year, coming from the 3 Series which was World Car of The Year.
Even BMW’s certified pre-owned ads had bite to them. Many were sexually charged, like the picture of a beautiful woman and the text reads “You know you’re not the first”. That, even you didn’t get it at first, implies that just because someone has been there before you doesn’t mean it’s not worth taking for a ride, and the same goes for the car…
Another pre-owned ad shows a woman’s waist in a pair of jeans with the front button doubling as a car ignition, reading “Sheer driving pleasure”.
Those kinds of ads can’t be run anymore, especially in America, as people would lose their minds and write to BMW to complain about the foulness in the ads. But I like these ads, they show bite and confidence and even a sense of humor. It seems as if BMW takes itself a bit too seriously now. Or maybe they have no choice.
The Super Bowl ad with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel wasn’t bad and the new X5 “Back Seat Driving” commercials with the Grandma are funny, showing off a humorous side to BMW that seems to have been missing for a little while. It just seems like all BMW ads, in both print and television, are becoming like every other advertisement; just clips of the cars with nice backdrops and the car’s slogan slapped on. I like my BMW ads to have bite, like they did back in the day. Maybe these Granny commercials are pointing in the write direction.
For now, enjoy these old school ads and share with us your favorites as well.