Tom Hanks drove a BMW in 1984’s Splash. It was Dr. Frasier Crane’s car of choice on his eponymous show. Then James Bond drove one in Goldeneye. A few years later, The Driver (starring Clive Owen) drove one for the brand’s ahead-of-its-time BMW Films series. And most recently, BMW was the ride of choice in the Bollywood blockbuster action franchise Dhoom 3.
Now, BMW has become the go-to ride for Mission: Impossible agent Ethan Hunt. It’s not a bad little bit of clandestine marketing to span an automaker’s image from Tom Hanks to Tom Cruise in the matter of a couple decades.
BMW is back for its next Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation movie this week in a bigger and bolder way. In our ongoing behind-the-scenes series on Hollywood product placements, brandchannel spoke with Claudia Müller, Head of Global Entertainment Marketing for BMW Group, about the new BMW Mission, getting drivers from movie seats into car seats, and why Ethan Hunt insists on intentionally crashing his BMWs.
— BMW (@BMW) July 24, 2015
brandchannel: What makes BMW a fit for the franchise, and how is BMW’s involvement in Rogue Nation different from its role in Ghost Protocol?
Claudia Müller: As the Mission: Impossible franchise stands for thrilling action, dynamic stunts, high-tech innovations and challenging adventures, it has a very good fit with our brand and products.
The difference this time is that we have already established a good working relationship with Paramount and all partners involved on both ends. The challenge was that the film release was taking place almost six months earlier than initially planned. We also decided this time to focus on BMW series models and to include the BMW S1000RR motorbike into the portfolio of integrated vehicles.
bc: Ghost Protocol featured a BMW concept car while Rogue Nation stars a market-available M3, amongst other BMWs. Is there an advantage to featuring an unavailable concept car?
Müller: The decision about which model appears in a movie is a mutual one. The film script determines the choice of model character and performance, and BMW has proposes the models that fit best into the marketing and launch strategy. BMW concept cars and series models have both their advantages.
For the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics, the concept car became the BMW i8, which was early in its development process already in movie action. It helped generate awareness for BMW and interest in BMW’s upcoming vehicle, which led to the successful the BMWi model range.
bc: What’s your favorite BMW movie role of all time?
Müller: That is like asking a mother which child is her favorite. Each movie and each BMW car therein has something different and exciting along the story of the movie: the role of the car, the authenticity of its placement and the technological innovations. There are many good BMW placements in movies so far and we are excited to see what the future will bring.
bc: From the looks of the Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation trailer, the film continues the tradition of Ethan Hunt intentionally crashing BMWs. It was once convention for automakers to restrict filmmakers from using their models in crashes. Does BMW welcome these scenes?
Müller: We are very sure that a lot of our global BMW fan base and even our engineers will have tears in their eyes when seeing our cars destroyed. We can assure them that most of the time, we were using test vehicles and a lot of spare parts to make these scenes happen. Nevertheless, we all love action movies and car stunts, and we are thrilled to sometimes take our sporty and solid cars into that kind of challenges.
bc: As with the last Mission: Impossible, BMW is running sales promotions alongside the film. How has the partnership impacted the dealerships?
Müller: You can never derive sales success from one single marketing tool. It is always a combination of all BMW communication activities, PR and sales force activities that sell cars. But we have heard back from our markets and dealers that the activation of the BMW Mission: Impossible campaign always attracts new potential customers to our brand and offering exclusive “money can’t buy” experience when invited to film premieres or sneak previews.