Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Engineered for Success

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Engineered for Success

Article excerpt

Richard Hudson, marketing director at BMW, is continuing the brand's focus on technology and broader appeal. Interview by Alex Brownsell.

Vorsprung durch technik, or, to non-German speakers, advancement through technology, may be the phrase one immediately associates with luxury car brand Audi. No one, however, has put those words into practice as extensively as its rival, BMW.

Since taking over from Uwe Ellinghaus in May, UK marketing director Richard Hudson has presided over a raft of marketing initiatives to promote BMW as the most technologically advanced motoring brand. The 40-year-old former direct marketer is at his most animated when discussing the work of the marque's engineers in Germany.

First under the direction of Ellinghaus, and now Hudson, BMW's answer to environmental concerns has been its 'Efficient Dynamics' programme, which the marque claims has resulted in its cars producing lower levels of CO2 emissions through greater efficiency.

Efficient Dynamics is being promoted in the UK with an integrated campaign promising 'Less emissions. More driving pleasure'. The TV execution thanks nature for enhancing the performance of BMW's models, and Hudson is convinced that this subtler approach is preferable to boasting about the brand's technological progress.

'Just to go on about our prowess would be self-indulgent and, frankly, boring,' says Hudson. 'The 'Thank you' campaign explains what the benefits of Efficient Dynamics are for drivers.' He claims public spontaneous awareness of the programme has reached 30% in six months.

BMW is hardly the first car brand to tout its green credentials. Toyota and Lexus, for example, have invested heavily in hybrid technology, and Hudson admits to being slightly envious of how the Japanese manufacturer has transformed its hybrid car, the Prius, into a brand-shaping model But he also cites Lexus' ill-conceived 'High performance. Low emissions. Zero guilt' press campaign, banned by the ASA for misleading consumers, as an example of how not to tackle the green agenda.

'We're not greenwashing, we're promoting BMW as a responsible brand, and one which makes sense from both a rational and emotional point of view,' says Hudson. 'Customers want a car they can enjoy, in our case a premium car, but they don't want to be profligate. We're not trying to promote our green awards - the ASA would haul us over the coals, as it has done, rightly, with Lexus. No car, by its nature, is environmentally friendly.'

This admission is representative of Hudson's attitude to marketing - namely that organisations should not brag unless their claims can be supported with evidence. He refers to BMW as a 'conviction brand', and maintains that its advertising messages are grounded in substance. In practice, this means we can expect all BMW marketing to be tethered to a mechanical fact.

Take, for example, the forthcoming campaign to promote BMW's latest 7 Series, a model that features goodies such as night-vision cameras and internet access. The manufacturer has chosen the strapline 'Never stand still' to push the claim that the model is the most advanced in its sector. 'The job of the 7 Series is to re-establish itself as the flagship car of the BMW range,' says Hudson.

Traditionally, BMW's most famous model has been the 3 Series - the brand's phenomenal growth during the late 90s and early part of this decade was fuelled by sales of the line. But although BMW has issued outdoor and dealership ads encouraging drivers to take a fresh look at the model, Hudson stresses that the brand sells fewer 3 Series than it did 10 years ago. …

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