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BMW Shakes Up the Ad World – Again

A special edition of Marty's Marketing Minutia.

by on Aug.29, 2011

BMW gets a new ad agency.

Once upon a time automotive advertisers were the most stable accounts on an agency’s client roster. Those were the halcyon Dan Draper days. Turbulence is now the norm. Longevity is passé. Performance — as in results and metrics – now drives the business.

BMW is just the latest to join the long list of auto brands who have switched agencies since the economic meltdown began. The headline A-list switchers include Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Saab, Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, Mazda and Volkswagen.  The personal toll is and has been incalculable for modern Drapers, but, interestingly, lead creatives and strategists from a shop that was fired from a brand are now working for one of the new agencies new brands.

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It’s been a very long process for BMW to select their latest agency with the unwieldy name of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners, of New York City. It’s better known by the initials KBS&P.  Early last fall BMW parted company with its international agency, Omnicom Group’s GSD&M Idea Shop.


Marty’s Marketing Minutia

No "Joy" as BMW's ad agency resigns.

by on Oct.25, 2010

BMW's Joy campaign generated plenty of complaints but was that to blame?.

The announcement seems almost unreal, like a promo for the popular TV series, Mad Men, rather than an actual press release.  But after reading it a second and third time we realized this wasn’t a fictional ad agency shake-up but a very real parting of ways between two of the most closely watched partners in the business.

“BMW and GSD&M Idea City will end their relationship after the current contract expires,” went the report. “We thank GSD&M for their contributions over the last five years. They have been great partners. However, we have a number of agency partners, both in the US and globally, that provide high quality work. We look forward to continuing to work with this team of great agencies now and in the future on a wide range of dynamic new products, technologies and initiatives.”

Over the past few days there have been plenty of rumors about what precipitated what had seemed to be a mutually satisfactory agency–client partnership.

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The short list of viable explanations starts with the untimely death of BMW’s respected vice president of marketing, Jack Pitney, a vocal proponent of the Omnicon shop, who was killed in a freak accident on the farm he liked to work in his off hours.  His relatively unknown successor, Dan Creed, goes the argument, hopes to imprint his own name on the brand with an agency of his own choice.


Update: BMW’s Jack Pitney Killed In Farm Accident

Marketing exec and rising star dead at 47.

by on Aug.27, 2010

Jack Pitney, shown here with the new BMW 5-Series, was killed in a freak accident on his farm.

BMW executive Jack Pitney, considered one of the company’s rising stars, has been killed in a freak accident on his farm outside New York City.

A tractor the BMW executive was driving flipped while Pitney was trying to remove a tree stump, according to a police report.

Just 47, Pitney was given much of the credit for helping the German maker craft the successful U.S. launch of the Mini brand.  He was about to be reassigned from his post as BMW’s chief marketing officer to a regional post, raising questions about the direction his career was taking, but inside sources contend the move was meant to broaden Pitney’s skill set, and not as a demotion, as some initial reports had suggested.

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Indeed, the upcoming appointment as Eastern Regional Manager, set to go into effect on Sept. 1st, was precisely the sort of non-traditional move Pitney had been known to make during his brief but impactful career.


Key Managerial Changes Shaking Up BMW

Déjà vu all over again?

by on Jul.21, 2010

Former BMWNA Marketing Chief Jack Pitney will now take responsibility for the maker's eastern region.

A few years ago in a sweeping change in positions that surprised the auto industry, Jack Pitney, then head of the new Mini division, switched jobs with Jim McDowell, who was serving as the British marque’s vice president of marketing.

In the famous words of Yogi Berra, “It’s deja vu, all over again.”

Mini’s parent, BMW, is making two new veep switches, one financial, as Wayne Orchowski, vice president of the Eastern Region, becomes VP of operations and COO of BMW Group Financial Services. That move might not have even made the radar, but the other switch is causing some seismic tremors in the marketing world and blogs as Jack Pitney, vice president of marketing for the BMW Brand (and the acknowledged, if not titled, CMO of BMW US) will assume the role of vice president of BMW’s Eastern Region.

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When a CMO moves from one company to another, retires or leaves the industry it’s usually not unexpected, but a move from the major staff position to a major line operation job is rare.  Except it’s Pitney’s career DNA.  How many remember when he moved from head of BMW public relations to lead the launch of Mini in the U.S. another line function. That too surprised industry pundits.


BMW Billboard Ties Up Traffic

Unconventional ad triggers flurry of 911 calls.

by on Jan.19, 2010

Good gosh, don't jump! This BMW billboard, along I-95, is catching attention. Photo Courtesy Connecticut Post

They say you shouldn’t jump into a major purchase, like an automobile, without sleeping on it.  And that’s probably what the folks at the BMW dealership, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, had in mind when they put their new billboard along I-95.  But the ad has generated some unexpected responses.

The message is brief: “The Overnight Test Drive,” which refers to a program BMW of Bridgeport offers allowing potential customers to take a car home for an overnight drive.  But it’s not the words that have gotten so many motorists worrying.  It’s the life-sized mannequin, in pajamas, sitting atop the sign accompanied by a teddy bear.


That’s triggered a rash of calls to the local State Police barracks from commuters worrying that someone was ready to jump (perhaps because they didn’t qualify for the program?).