So watching the TV one night last week, I was treated to the latest iteration of the BMW’s big idea: Joy. I say treated with a sense of cynicism actually because what joy was in it for me? It didn’t make me feel joyful, I didn’t immediately want to share any joy, and I couldn’t even intellectually understand the concept BMW were presenting to me. Even the straycat that comes to visit now and then, seemed a bit non-plussed. Why? Because this communication lacked any sense of Joy.

The brand was so busy ‘telling’ me that it was about Joy, that there seemed none left over for me to feel. As every one knows, Joy is a response that comes as a result of some other stimulus. If you entertain me, I might feel happy; if you interest me I might feel amazed; if you provoke me, I might feel energised. And if you show me generosity, I may well feel Joy.

I believe that in Buddhist philosophy, generosity is the first thing one must learn, it is the first teaching, because everything else that follows depends upon inherently generous behaviour. There are three kinds of generosity: first, the kind of miserly giving where you give away what you no longer want – like recycling; secondly, kindly giving, in which we give away that which we would like to receive; and thirdly, the noblest of all, generous giving, in which we have the sort of sense of non-attachment that allows us to feel unencumbered, free and light, where we literally can’t enjoy something without the sense of sharing it with another.

And that is true Joy. When we have let go to the extent that we are not attempting to control an outcome, a consequence, or another person.The brands that truly are delivering Joy, are the ones that get this concept of generous giving. Apple made its i-Phone in a way that people could create and personalise with their own apps. So much sharing has taken place that hardly anyone with an i-Phone feels anything but Joy when they discover new and interesting utilities and entertainment. O2 understood that in the new world of downloadable music, it’s ‘live’ music that becomes the most enjoyable, shareable experience, so it tries to generously give as much of that to its customers via Priority and other initiatives.

So, when will BMW give up trying to control and direct Joy, and just bring about an environment of shared experiences – albeit facilitated by the brand – out of which we can feel a sense of Joy? Presumably when it decides to ‘let go’ and allow drivers, or aspiring drivers, to experience the generosity of the brand.