When launching its new 2-Series coupé last month, BMW Canada had two marketing objectives common to any product launch: generate awareness and create customer desire for the product.
The first was achieved primarily through standard marketing channels like TV, print and out-of-home, while the latter was assigned to digital, where BMW has become something of an internet darling thanks to a recent series of iconic ads by Cundari that have sparked vigorous online debate as to their authenticity.
Kerry Fleiser, brand communications manager for BMW Canada in Richmond Hill, Ont., said that audiences tend to be highly engaged with the brand in the digital space, with ads like 2012’s “Bullet” and 2011’s “Walls” garnering 5.2 million and 4.6 million views, respectively, on YouTube.
“We’re leaning towards those executions more and more because they bring results, and that’s clearly where our target is choosing to interact,” said Fleiser.
As part of the digital campaign for the 2-Series, the luxury automaker and its media agency, Media Experts, partnered with Microsoft Advertising on a homepage takeover of MSN.ca, becoming the first advertiser in the world to use the digital company’s new “Collage” unit.
Headlined by the challenge “Are You In?,” the 300 by 600-pixel unit appeared on the MSN.ca webpage on March 6. The unit featured six separate panels that enabled BMW to combine raw video of the car with static ads promoting its interior and performance specs.
“The more opportunities we have in the media landscape that can enable interaction, the more success we have,” said Fleiser. “We care about the views and impressions, but from a digital perspective what attracted us to the MSN piece was that it was an even more engaging and interactive way to deliver a lot of messaging and features about the new vehicle.”
Karel Wegert, vice-president of digital solutions for Media Experts in Toronto, said the campaign emphasis was on finding new and innovative ways to communicate the brand’s attributes to its core target: primarily men in their 40s.
“Our focus was on avoiding those wallpaper-like ad units,” said Wegert. “The reason the Collage unit really jumped out at us was that it seemed to be that perfect blend of something unique that stood out on that homepage and encouraged people to spend more time with it.”
The audience was car enthusiasts interested in learning as much as they can about prospective auto purchases, and who spend a lot of time trying to understand the features and benefits. It was a target that aligned perfectly with the Collage unit’s multi-panel approach.
“It really allowed us to show a lot of video content, communicate a lot of the performance messaging, and really highlight some of the differentiating characteristics of the 2-Series versus some of the competitor vehicles,” said Fleiser.
Consumers spent an average of three minutes and 18 seconds interacting with the Collage ad, far exceeding the industry average of 5.17 seconds for expandable right media ads in the automotive category, as determined by DoubleClick.
BMW’s Fleiser attributed the longer-than-average dwell time to several factors: the strength of the BMW brand, the ability of the creative to showcase an abundance of content (all created to ensure maximum engagement) and a seamless viewing experience within the ad unit itself. Click-through to the BMW site from the MSN page also “blew away” the company’s previous efforts, she said.
Robert Jenkyn, head of creative solutions for Microsoft Canada, said that the company is committed to creating advertising units that include features that entice and delight consumers. “We’re trying to build ads that people want to play with and use,” he said.
Microsoft typically introduces one or two new ad units every quarter, plus four or five customized client solutions every six months. Canada continues to emerge as a test market for new ad products, said Jenkyn.
“[Microsoft] definitely sees us as a market that’s quite sophisticated and where advertisers are willing to try advancements in technology,” he said. The trick, he said, is finding the appropriate balance in a market that still tends to be hesitant.