Brands in the News

BMW’s Joy

18 Mar 2010  

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal featured a rather striking insert from BMW. The message: BMW creates joy.

The advertisement reads:

We do not make cars.

We are the creators of emotion.

We are the keepers of thrill.

We are the guardians of one three-letter word.


This is quite a change from BMW’s long time focus on performance. While the brands tagline, “The Ultimate Driving Machine” is still in the ad, the message has clearly changed.

For many years BMW laddered from Germany engineering to the bigger idea of performance. Now BMW is going one more step, to the very high order benefit of joy.

Is this shift a good idea?

I’m not convinced. Joy is certainly an important benefit, and BMW can make a credible claim that it creates joy. But many brands claim to create joy. In December, for example, Coke and Wal-Mart teamed up to create a catchy ad embracing the idea of joy. I worry that BMW is moving from a benefit it really owned to one that is bigger but not as unique. In the long run this might not help the brand.

I don’t think the move will hurt, however. It isn’t a significant disconnect for the brand and everyone can embrace the idea of joy: Coke, Wal-Mart and BMW.

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