BMW Targets Owners for Z4 Release

BMW of North America LLC will send an e-mail newsletter Sept. 17 to 230,000 registered U.S. owners and lessees of its cars as part of an ambitious customer retention effort for its new Z4 roadster model.

“Our owners are very important to us because they tend to repurchase and they tend to repurchase several times over,” said Dianne Martini, direct marketing manager at BMW, Woodcliff Lake, NJ. “This is really simply a reward for loyalty.”

Headlined “Owners Count. Enter BMW Owners' Exclusive Z4 Sweepstakes,” the online effort mirrors a direct mail piece sent earlier this month. It invites recipients to enter for a chance to win the first BMW Z4 roadster before they hit dealer showrooms.

The e-mail newsletter asks recipients to log onto by Oct. 6. Postcard entries can be mailed by Oct. 1. Current owners or lessees of BMW cars are eligible. They furnish their name, mail and e-mail address, and telephone number.

A random drawing Oct. 7 determines the winner. This person and a guest will be flown Oct. 21 to BMW's Spartanburg, SC, manufacturing plant. The next day the winner will “report to work on the assembly line, to help build the very first customer-delivered Z4,” the mailer said.

Once the roadster is built, the winner spends the day at the BMW Performance Center for instructions in performance driving. Delivery is scheduled for Oct. 22, ahead of the Oct. 26 debut in BMW dealerships.

“They don't have to physically do anything,” Martini said. “They don't have to visit a dealership, they don't have to write an essay. They don't have to do anything but enter. We're always looking for ways to recognize owners and thank them for their patronage.”

Marketing for the Z4 began in July with a series of mailers and e-mails sent to in-house lists and targeted prospects from outside lists. Efforts for the sweepstakes started Aug. 26 with an announcement on the Owners' Circle section in the site.

Mail for the sweepstakes followed Sept. 4. The target audience was more than 1 million BMW owners and lessees for whom the company lacked an e-mail address. The e-Exclusive letter will go to all owners and lessees who have signed up for the publication.

An e-mail will be sent to owners and lessees whose e-mail addresses BMW has, but who have not registered for the newsletter. This e-mail will follow the e-mail newsletter announcement. The message is a pickup on the mailer. Martini would not disclose the drop size.

“Each person is going to get one communication in their preferred medium,” Martini said. “We're not going to bombard them.”

All told, well over 1 million BMW car owners and lessees will be contacted for the sweepstakes via mail, e-mail and

“I don't know how many a car manufacturer has ever attempted to contact all of their owners unless it was over bad news like a recall,” said Jim McDowell, vice president of marketing at BMW.

Martini agreed.

“The unique angle to this program is that this is open to any and all BMW drivers,” she said. “It doesn't matter if your BMW is pre-owned and 30 years old. If you're in the BMW family, you're eligible. You may enter once for every BMW that you currently own. If you have four BMWs, you can enter that many times.”

BMW U.S. agency of record Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, handled the online element of the campaign. Ritta & Associates, Englewood, NJ, was responsible for the mail work. BMW would not disclose the direct and interactive marketing budget for this push.

A lot rides on this concerted direct marketing effort for the Z4. The car is a successor to the Z3, which was featured in “Goldeneye,” the 1995 James Bond movie. Like its predecessor, the Z4 will star in the second Hire Internet film series at, copying a similar effort last year for the Z3.

The Z4 comes with a new platform and roof system, different visual design and a melodic sports car note in the driving. The Z3 no longer is in production, though a few cars remain at dealerships. McDowell would not disclose the sticker price but said the Z4 is likely to be in the same range as the Z3, which costs $32,000.

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