At the BMW 100 Years Exhibit in Los Angeles, BMWBLOG sat down with Hildegard Wortmann, Senior Vice President Brand BMW. Ms. Wortmann joined BMW in 1998 and has played a crucial role in the successful re-launch of the MINI brand. She is now a Senior Vice President Brand BMW, responsible for all activities related to the BMW brand. One of the topics we touched on in our interview was the upcoming BMW Film, “The Escape.”
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“The Escape,” a short film from Academy Award nominated director Neill Blomkamp (“District 9,” “Elysium”) features once again original BMW Films star and Oscar nominated actor Clive Owen (“Closer,” “Children of Men”), who reprises his role as The Driver. BMW not only brought back Owen for “The Escape,” but also Bruce Bildsten as Creative Director, Brian DiLorenzo as Executive Producer and David Carter, who in addition to serving as a creative consultant, co-wrote the film alongside Blomkamp.
The new BMW film celebrates the original’s 15th birthday this year and that was one of the main drivers behind the project. The other motive was BMW’s aspiration to give something back to the BMW community, one that has been loyal to the brand throughout its history.
“We would love to give something back to BMW fans. The BMW Films is a memory we are all attached to it, so we decided to give something in return [to the community] and do a hommage to the original film,” Ms. Wortmann told us. “I think it’s great to have this amazing cast and this great car to showcase.”
Even though not confirmed at the moment, the expectations are that the new BMW 5 Series will be one of the main stars of the short film.
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If you want to play a part in someone’s life, you have to be a relevant brand.
Is this one film of many to come?
“We’re not sure about it at the moment,” Ms. Wortmann said. “The idea really was to produce a hommage piece, something very precious, respectful of what we’ve done before. If we were to do five, six other films, the effect might not be the same.”
“What is the message behind it? It’s not about doing the same thing as before, it’s about respecting what people have done at the time and be relevant today,” Ms. Wortmann added.
Not only the automotive landscape has been changing over the last few years — electro-mobility, autonomous driving – but also the marketing strategy for automotive companies. Including BMW.
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It’s great for BMW that for the first time we can connect with consumers, globally, in real-time.
“We have the same iconic changes on the marketing side, the channels have changed, how consumers consume content has changed, and as a brand we can’t go out there and shout “We’re the greatest, buy us,” Ms. Wortmann said in relation to the ever changing ways to interact with the brand’s customers.
“If you want to play a part in someone’s life, you have to be a relevant brand. Many of us probably have a few brands we follow in our life, so our goal is to be one of those brands in your portfolio. And this is a great task to accomplish, you have to build relationships with the consumer, to be part of their world, and that’s a very different challenge.”
Social media continues to be highly relevant within the “four-cylinder building” in Munich.
“When you look at the new media channels and the social media channels, to me, that’s all highly relevant. You cannot plan your communication the way you used to in the past – the pre-defined, straightforward, structured plan with pre and post launch metrics and communication channels – now you have to manage the media plan real-time, every day. We have social media controls where we can see what everyone is talking about the BMW brand, in real-time.”
The topic of millennials and the new generation of BMW buyers has also come up. Ms. Wortmann says that, for example, the average age of a BMW 7 Series customer in China is 37 years old, which gives the company the ability to try different channels and strategies to connect with those buyers.
“In my new role, we have to build new competencies, including data analysts in our marketing team to be able to interpret what we see on these new marketing channels,” Ms. Wortmann said.
“It’s great for BMW that for the first time we can connect with consumers, globally, in real-time. Now, if you publish something on Youtube, regardless if it’s market specific, the impact can be felt globally. And that’s a chance for us, not a risk.”