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BMW on Mission to Regain Product Placement Preeminence

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 8, 2011 11:55 AM

"Because only BMW offers the type of performance that can outmaneuver a high-speed chase on international back roads, and skim over the sand dunes of Dubai—as seen in Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol."

That's part of the multi-million dollar mission BMW has chosen to accept for its tie-in with the upcoming fourth installment of the Tom Cruise action franchise. But BMW is looking to do more than show off a few of its cars when MW4 hits movie theaters in December.

It aims to regain preeminence in the theatre, snatch back a share of voice, and showcase technology that audiences can wander from theatre to dealership to see. The brand hopes the message will not self destruct in one movie.

The new Mission Impossible will feature a number of vehicles, including the 6 Series and the i8, the brand's super efficient car of the future. But not too far into the future.

Ruben Igielko-Herrlich, co-founder of Propaganda GEM, the product placement firm handling BMW's new efforts, tells brandchannel in 1962's James Bond film Goldfinger, audiences saw heads up displays and GPS. "But then they had to wait 50 years to actually get any of that technology." Igielko-Herrlich says of the BMW technology featured Ghost Protocol, "That technology is available now!"

The technology is called ConnectedDrive, an in-car system that functions lie another brain, providing everything from interactive traffic updates to text-to-speech connectivity. Variety reports that BMW was in on the film from the get-go a year and a half ago. This early involvement allowed BMW to help craft its role in the film in a deal that Variety says was "easily worth tens of millions of dollars."

BMW's website has a Mission Impossible takeover, with special galleries for the i8 and the 6 Series cars used in the film. Dealerships are also readying for curious customers looking to engage with the new technology. Global in scope, BMW's "Mission to Drive" campaign will also extend to markets like China, where Ethan Hunt's adventures are wildly popular.

Igielko-Herrlich reports that Ghost Protocol is the just the beginning of a new push for BMW that begins with a new center in Munich dedicated to global brand activation, especially in entertainment. Such a large push has been building over the last year or so as BMWs have slowly been creeping into the hottest new music videos.

There is Taio Cruz's video "Higher." The BMW in Jennifer Hudson's "No One Gonna Love You." The BMW motorcycle in the Black Eyed Peas' "Imma Be Rocking That Body." Then the BMW in Jennifer Lopez's "On the Floor." Then, custody of the BMW went to Lopez's ex-husband Marc Anthony on the weekends in his video with Pitbull "Rain Over Me." (By the way, that last video has recored 145 million views.)

Also, in 2010, BMW highlighted the same ConnectedDrive system in a major role in the Roman Polanski-directed thriller Ghost Writer:

BMW did have a role in the first 1996 Misson Impossible film when its 318i worked its way into a scene. But BMW's product placement pedigree is with James Bond.

In 1996, BMW used the Bond fill Goldeneye to launch its Z3 roadster.

Part of a three-movie deal, the Z3 sold out immediately after the debut of the film and remanded backordered for years. To this day, BMW's role in Goldeneye is considered one of the most successful product placements of all time.

But BMW learned a lesson, showing in Goldeneye was a bit one-dimensional as BMW got the Z3 late to the production. For this reason, few of the cars features are shown off. Igielko-Herrlich says this is where BMW went in a different direction with Ghost Protocol, choosing to be heavily involved from the beginning.

Tom Cruise has been involved with concept cars before. In Minority Report, Cruise famously escaped in a unforgettable futuristic Lexus. But as Igielko-Herrlich explains, the placement failed to do much for Lexus because that concept car never materialized. He points to the Audi in I, Robot as well, a project Propaganda GEM has worked on.

Igielko-Herrlich predicts BMW will be successful in its gambit because the i8 is a real car that consumers "will see in a few years." Of Propaganda GEM's new partnership with BMW, he adds, "BMW's vision for product placement is a challenge. But then it's always easier to follow than lead."

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