Since its development, BMW has been praised for engineering some of the most driver oriented cars available.  With stately designs, robust engines, and advanced structural agility, the BMW brand has much pedigree.  Their marketing campaigns have generally focused around this driver oriented experience, with their slogan being “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”  You would think their cars would be able to sell themselves, and they practically do.  BMW is currently ranked as the best selling luxury brand.  However, with changing times companies must also change their objectives and implement new marketing plans.  This particular ad demonstrates one of these changes found in BMW’s marketing campaigns.

In “Advertising in the Age of Accelerated Meaning,” Goldman and Papson state how “advertisements are structured to boost the value of commodity brand names by attaching them to images that possess social and cultural value: brand-name commodity + meaning of image = a commodity sing” (81).  This particular ad is a prime example of boosting commodity brand names by attaching images which reflect society’s growing angst regarding the environment.  Rather than focusing solely on pure driving imagery, and convincing the viewers how their automobiles are second to none when it comes to performance and handling, BMW focuses on clean burning diesel energy.  Now, clean energy is something typically not associated with luxury brands like BMW, so this ad is certainly a departure from the usual.  BMW knew it was time to make a statement regarding the environment though, since Global Warming and alternative forms of energy have been on the minds of people for quite some time now.

The advertisement opens with strong images of fuel exhaust escaping from none other but exhaust pipes, and filling the surrounding air.  People are seen shielding themselves from the dark and intrusive looking exhaust.  These visuals connote an unclean and pollution filled world, one that seems void of environmental awareness.  A few seconds in, a truck driver can be seen coughing up fuel exhaust, which just shows how prevalent it is in our world.  The coughing truck driver can signify not only how we are surrounded by pollution, but also how such things can lead to sickness and disease.  Throughout the commercial several cars from the 80s are seen emitting this dark fuel exhaust, which ties in nicely with the image of the factory seen behind an eighteen wheeler.  These signifiers can perhaps signify deregulation and big business taking little to no responsibility for their actions during the 80s, which BMW would obviously be against.  The yellow station wagon, for example, connotes the idea that bigger is better, and that not much thought was put into creating products which would be alright for the environment.  When the BMW 3-Series equipped with a clean burning diesel engine finally appears, the characters in the commercials are seen staring at the car in awe, which conveys interest and appreciation for such technologies in today’s world.  Goldman and Papson state how state how “Consumer ads typically tell stories of success, desire, happiness, and social fulfillment in the lives of the people who consume the rights brands” (82).  By tying in their product with anxiety felt for the environment, BMW conveys that people who buy their products are consuming the right brand.  They allude to this idea that consumers of BMW are part of a responsible brand, which will make them look socially aware.

Goldman and Papson believe that “Advertisements are always commodity narratives” (82).  This particular commercial narrates that BMW is keeping up with the changing attitudes of consumers in today’s society.  In the past decade, the discussion of global warming and the environment has spurred companies to produce more environmental friendly products.  The car world in general has been a huge component of this movement, with nearly every auto-marker now manufacturing hybrid cars.  Keeping up with the times and adjusting to change is represented no more clearly than in this commercial, which just so happens to be playing David Bowie’s famous song “Changes.”  Playing this song throughout the commercial anchors the idea that this Bavarian auto-maker is certainly paying attention to outside pressures and is willing to evolve.

Post by Kevin