Averaging about ten minutes each, The Hire was a series of eight short films produced for the internet viewing from 2001 to 2002. A form of branded content, all eight films featured popular filmmakers from across the globe, 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 recent stars in Hollywood who played in movies like 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.

The series has been very successful in terms of marketing and public awareness with BMW sales numbers going 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 number of people share the films with their friends and family. These were times when Youtube hasn’t been born and video sharing wasn’t as easy. One can only imagine the impact and viral marketing that these videos would have generated across the internet today.

The films proved to be so popular that BMW ended up producing a free DVD for customers who visited certain BMW dealerships. The entire history on the series can be found on Wikipedia.

Today, with the help of our long time reader, Jordan, we are going back into the history and share with you a puzzle piece of BMW’s history. Jordan took the time to scope out the videos on Youtube and shared the links with all of us.

We hope you enjoy them.