In the August 7 edition of Advertising Age, columnist Al Ries claimed that in an upcoming advertising campaign, BMW would be dropping its legendary slogan “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” Ries was significantly off-base. First of all, BMW has no intention of dropping, altering or in any way moving away from that great line. In the development of the latest ad campaign, the first from BMW’s new advertising agency GSD&M, the issue wasn’t even discussed. Ries took some bad information and then compounded the problem by making poor assumptions based on comments that he did not even try to verify.
The “upcoming” campaign to which Ries referred actually began running more than three months ago, on May 5, in print, TV and online. “The Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan is prominently featured in all of the ads. There was also quite a bit written about the campaign launch in print and online. It appears that Ries was confused by a mention of the overarching theme of the campaign, “A Company of Ideas.” That’s not a slogan, and those actual words don’t appear in the ads in any way that would be confused as a replacement for “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” In the marketing business, it’s known as a positioning statement.” It represents a way of talking about the company, as opposed to a specific slogan that identifies the brand.
BMW is a remarkably innovative company. Their corporate culture, specifically their independence and encouragement of creative thinking and problem solving is what allows them to produce the ultimate driving machine. They are very much a company of ideas and they have the chops to prove it. The ad campaign so misinterpreted by Ad Age gives consumers a look at some of the ways BMW backs up that claim. The two things, a positioning and a slogan are very important but also very different things. The former is a broad theme, the latter a very specific word or phrase. Separate but complimentary. It’s a distinction that any marketing student knows. Al Ries and Ad Age certainly should have too.
To get a better look, check out the “Uniquely BMW” section of www.bmwusa.com