Probably one of the most recognizable slogans amongst car manufacturers around the globe, BMW’s “The Ultimate Driving Machine” tag line,  has served the Munich based company well over the years. Used in North America, the tag line is simple, descriptive, to the point and most important of all, it is identifiable with the brand.

Many companies can certainly come up with clever slogans, but if they don’t “stick” to the brand or transcend the products they represent, then they are lost in a sea of three to five word sentences and it’s back to the drawing board so to speak.

So what is it about BMW’s “The Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan that actually makes it work? Simple, BMW has backed up their claim quite well with cars that are simply thrilling to drive. The slogan, now nearly 34-years-old, was originally created under the reign of Bob Lutz by a relatively unknown ad-agency, Ammirati & Puris.  Ammirati & Puris caught the attention of Lutz by their impressive Fiat ads and it was consider a gamble to go with such an underdog agency.

the ultimate driving machineDuring the 1970’s, Baby Boomers were out of college, making money and ready to spend their hard earned dollars. What better way to reflect your success than on a premium automobile? When shopping for a car, or anything for that matter, it is hard to ignore a product backed with the claim of being “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, especially when their fathers’ for the past two decades have been parking sloppy, overweight Buicks in their driveways. I’m not trying to generalize, but you get the point…

It’s safe to say that Lutz’s gamble paid off handsomely and was a key to BMW’s success in the 1970s and up through the present day.

In 2006, a rumor started that BMW toys with the idea of dropping the synonymous tag line and the Bavarian automaker was to be represented by the tag line, “A Company of Ideas”. The slogan came from the desire to cater to the “Creative Class” and to evoke amongst consumers, and competition alike, that BMW was an organization that wasn’t afraid to push the envelope and make cars that questioned conventional design and engineering. Some say it was merely a rumor that came from marketing genius Al Reis in an AdAge column and also, BMW denied the claim immediately. There was also a petition that circled the interwebs to stop the decision of dropping the tag line.

Thankfully, BMW never went through with the decision nor we know exactly if there were any plans to really change the slogan.

Although I do agree with the overall concept of the slogan being somewhat of a fit for BMW, I don’t feel that it would have been an appropriate replacement for what has worked for so many years, nor did it describe the core competency of the company. Also, “A Company of Ideas” was much too broad and could have been applied to any company. When you drive a BMW you simply cannot deny the fact that they make automobiles that are more than a point A to point B car, more than a means of transportation. There is spirit behind these cars, these are drivers cars and are meant to be enjoyed.

They are “The Ultimate Driving Machine”.

A tag line ultimately does one thing and that is… keep a promise. The ability to keep that promise across the board, throughout all the products a company offers, is often a feat that is overlooked by the understated ability of sheer consistency. In my opinion BMW does just that. The bimmer is  a “driver’s car” first and everything else second.

When you are buying a BMW, you are buying something a bit different, something special and something you are proud of driving. I feel that “The Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan is timeless, genius and just plain works. But in a digital age and with BMW facing a different buyer today than they did 34 years ago, do you feel that it’s time for a change?

For those readers that were around before BMW was known as “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, does the power and effectiveness still hold true today? Many of you have described sheer irateness towards the “Joy” campaign associated with the all new Z4 roadster and most recently the X1. If you had the opportunity to do so, what would you make the next BMW slogan?

Share your thoughts in the comments section.