Monday, January 26, 2015

BMW i3 Super Bowl Commercial "Newfangled Idea" Released

Even though the Super Bowl is still about a week away, today BMW released the 60 second i3 commercial which will air during the big game.

The commercial begins with a flashback to a live filming of NBC's Today Show in 1994 with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel Talking about the internet. They have absolutely no idea what it is or how one might use it. They even can't agree on what the "@" symbol on a keyboard means. It's really hard to imagine this, since in the 21 years that have passed since this was filmed, the internet has integrated its way into all of our lives so much it is difficult to image life without it.

That's the whole point of the commercial. Things that seem foreign to us today may be the norm very soon in today's rapidly evolving world of technology. After the flashback, Katie and Bryant are sitting in an i3, and their conversation sounds very much like the one they had 21 years ago, struggling to understand what the i3 is and even how it was made. At one point Bryant looks out the window at a cyclist who is waiting next to them and says, "Katie said she thought this was a car," inferring that he doesn't even know what to call it.

I must admit, the first time I watched it I was a little disappointed. I was so excited when I heard BMW bought a full 60 second commercial during the Super Bowl just for the i3, and I immediately began to imagine what angle they might use. I was hoping for something that expressed how much fun the car is, how people just love to drive it, and how easy they could integrate the electric lifestyle into their life. I've been critical of all of the automaker's marketing efforts when it comes to their electric vehicle offerings. I don't believe anyone has really captured the essence of driving electric or why someone might consider getting their first electric car. So in my mind this was the angle I was hoping BMW went for. I also had a little fear they would just go entirely the sustainability angle, at which point I may have just banged my head on the kenaf fiber dashboard of my i3 until I was unconscious.

So I was a little surprised when I watched the commercial, but then I watched it a couple more times and I started to see why this may indeed have been the proper angle to take. No, it's not as heartwarming as the Clydesdale horses in the Budweiser spots, or even as cool as Leonard Nimoy's Audi commercial from last year, yet it does drill home the point it was trying to. Electric mobility is on the verge of becoming mainstream, and even though it may seem foreign to most people today, in only a short period of time they will wonder why they were ever living without it. I can live with that. Well done BMW.  Hit or miss; what do you think? Leave your opinions below in the comments section.

Bonus clip: The making of the commercial with Katie Curic, Bryant Gumbel and BMW's Trudy Hardy interviews.


  1. I like it too. I just wonder if enough people will get it. I bet a lot of people will just think "what the heck was that about?"

  2. I thought it was great! The purpose is just to raise awareness, and to do that memorably and with a smile. If the distracted viewer remembers the commercial, he or she will likely remember the car (the subliminal image will find a place in the brain, ready to pop up later). Telling them the car is fun to drive, and supplying technical reasons why, isn't going to do it. TV viewers have built up immunity to marketing hype, especially concerning cars. Telling them your car is better than the competition would have been a tremendous waste of money. Now, let's see what happens ;-)

  3. Just found the piece by on the commercial, descriptively entitled "BMW’s Hilarious Super Bowl Ad Recalls Life at the Dawn of the Internet." Apparently they liked it! I suspect that reaction is a good indicator of the likely response next Sunday by the great unwashed masses.

  4. You should read the comments in wired. Looks like that demographic hated it.

  5. What a terrible ad.
    Largely because it speaks in a condescending tone to the viewer.
    i.e., we are too dumb to realize big innovations when they arrive, so we must be beaten over the head

    And comparing the i3 to the internet?! LAME LAME LAME.

  6. A terrible ad is the last thing BMW needs right now, what with depressed i3 sales due to the big drop in gas prices.

    The average consumer is going to have NO IDEA what to make of this ad.
    Is it an internet car?
    Wait, he said it wasn't even a car!
    Is there an "@" in the name and what does that have to do with it?!

  7. Tom, even you indicated that you needed to watch the advertisement more than once to begin to understand how it made sense. How many will see it more than once? In defense, however, a thirty or sixty second spot has to accomplish very limited goals--especially name recognition where it doesn't already exist. Here I think the ad needed to tie the i3 more closely to the BMW label--something that is known, respected and engages people's attention. Because its a Superbowl ad, it needs to entertain and charm. That it does in part by way of using celebrities that are recognized by the demographic the ad is aiming to reach. So, for the Superbowl, the ad gets a pass. Beyond that, BMW needs to do better job communicating to their demographic target what their electric car can do for them.

  8. Basically BMW vehicles are well known for not only its brand recognition; but also for its good user friendly features. In most of the occasion we have found new additional features in BMW models; here we aware about the latest feature in BMW i3. No doubt BMW cars are very popular for its advanced high technology features and specification and for that reason BMW is now a popular brand in automobile industry.