BMW to hear creative agency pitches after test drive

BMW of North America is narrowing its search for a lead creative agency to replace GSD&M Idea City, which resigned its contract with the company late last year, said Dan Creed, VP of marketing at the automaker, on June 2.

“We cast quite a wide net, and we whittled the cattle call down to a long list, and it’s gone down to a not-long list,” he said, speaking at the BMO Capital Markets’ Advertising and Marketing Services Conference in New York. “And we’ll go out now and do chemistry checks with those agencies that are throughout North America.”

Creed, the event’s keynote speaker, added that BMW will then narrow its list of prospective agencies and invite the candidates to its Spartanburg, S.C. factory to test drive the M3 and M5 models. The agencies will pitch their plans five weeks after the test drive, he said.

Creed added that BMW is shifting its TV ad budget to programs in which consumers are less likely to skip commercials.

“I’ve seen a big shift [in TV advertising],” he said. “It’s more on the sports side, more live events, more TiVo-proof events. And that’s really where the next frontier lies.”

BMW leveraged its 2011 Super Bowl ad, the company’s first in a decade, with social media to allow consumers to configure a vehicle to their liking on BMW’s Facebook page, then bring that configuration to a dealership for a test drive, said Creed. He added that many corporations fail to add value to their campaigns by using social media without an overall plan.

“A lot of companies are just trying to check the Facebook box, check the Twitter box, check the LinkedIn box, and check the social media box without actually having a plan,” said Creed. “For us, it was about configuring a vehicle and being able to drive that to a dealer for a test drive.”

He did not specify results from the Super Bowl integrated campaign, but he said the Facebook tie-in was crucial to its success, noting that “our initial indications are that [the Facebook initiative] is rivaling the most targeted direct mail efforts we have ever done.”

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