Case study: BMW movies – luxury car to movie star

Charles Young and Amy Shea Hall

Fade in: An impossibly handsome man guides his convertible up to a dilapidated house on a deserted street. He exits; his white suit glints in the sun as he surveys the landscape from behind impenetrable sunglasses. In his hand, a metallic attaché case. Members of a SWAT team manoeuvre silently behind a fence. The driver takes out his cell phone and dials. A man's voice answers. The driver says simply 'I'm here.'

The latest Hollywood blockbuster? A prime-time TV drama?

Neither. It's advertising. Or, more accurately, advertising on steroids, aka branded entertainment.

This is the opening of 'The Hostage', produced by BMW and their former ad agency, Fallon, employing A-list director John Woo. To understand why this and seven other BMW films were made, one need only look to the challenges facing the long-time prime brand-advertising venue: TV. Media platforms are multiplying; the internet moves ever closer to being our primary source of information, music and entertainment; and TV recording technology allows for easier ad-skipping. Advertisers worldwide are searching for new ways to use the power of film to reach increasingly elusive viewers.