Brands in the News

BMW Embraces its German Roots

13 Dec , 2017  

BMW is one of the world’s top German brands. For many years, however, the company has intentionally downplayed its German roots, striving to be both German and local.  It was only somewhat German.

This strategy was perfectly brought to life in BMW’s 2014 Super Bowl ad, called “Built in America.” The spot featured an earnest sounding narrator with a Southern accent explaining that the latest BMW vehicles were designed in California and manufactured in South Carolina. You can watch the ad here:



With this in mind, the latest advertising from BMW is quite surprising. There is no mention of U.S. manufacturing or design. Instead, we have the BMW logo along with the words Bayerische Motoren Werke.



BMW is Bayerische Motoren Werke? Really?

New advertising for BMW’s luxury products (7, 8, X7) is striking and different. From the almost avant garde imagery to the spelling out of the brand into its full German, this is Europe all the way.



This is all a fairly dramatic strategic shift.


I suspect there is a simple insight behind the new marketing: Germany is hot. Across the globe, it is hard to find many countries that have Germany’s mix of prosperity, stability and spark. As the U.S. goes through turbulent times, Germany is emerging as a (or the?) global leader. Just recently, the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index declared Germany the world’s #1 country brand—replacing the U.S.

I was in Germany earlier this week. Tourism is booming, Christmas markets are packed and there are construction cranes everywhere. People are happy.

For a company like BMW, highlighting its Germany roots at this time makes all the sense in the world. I predict we will be seeing more of Bayerische Motoren Werke—and less of the South Carolina manufacturing facility—in BMW’s advertising in the coming months.

2 Responses

  1. davetuchler says:

    I suspect part of this is due to BMW losing traction (sorry) in the US; positioned as the Ultimate Driving Machine, steering and suspensions on recent models have literally and figuratively gone soft, so they’ve ceded some perceptual ground to other German brands (Audi, Porsche). BMW was totally left off Car&Driver’s 10Best roundup for the first time in about 25 years. So reinforcing the things that would seem to support uncompromising commitment to driving excellence (such as German engineering) makes sense to help return some of their mojo.

Leave a Reply


Conversation Across the Site

  • Bonnie Halpern { Thank you so much for another wonderful webinar. I attend the in-person event every year in NYC. I am so happy that you had a... }
  • Tammy Williams { Always enjoy your perspective, Tim, thanks for sharing your insights and expertise. It's truly going to be an interesting game! }
  • Katherine E Brown { It really depends on the fair and the kid. Our local fair has 80% feeder pigs bought from auction or a local person or two... }
  • Todd { Thank you for this insight, Professor. Students rarely have any insight into the mind of a professor or teacher at any level. Come to think... }
  • Mark Sheldon { Very interesting. Thank you and I think your analysis is generally correct. The one thing I would add is that in a small zoom class... }
  • Marty { Ford , built for change ? This is the company Hank almost bankrupted by refusing to replace the model T }
  • Read more Comments »

Collaborate with Tim

Tim helps companies around the world build great brands. To schedule a program or event click here. To learn more about Tim’s books, click here.