- BMW mapped out and traveled "one straight line" across the country to promote its new X5 model at the LA Auto Show, according to news shared with Marketing Dive. The vehicle took a more than 3,000-mile journey across 11 states, starting at its production plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina and ending in Los Angeles.
- BMW tapped Matt Mullins, chief driving instructor at the BMW Performance Driving School, to handle driving duties, with the goal of cutting the straightest possible path across the country and only taking detours when absolutely necessary. The trip, which lasted 10 days, highlights the X5's capabilities in different weather conditions, terrain and driving situations. BMW deployed a 35-person crew and six-vehicle fleet, along with technology like drones, to capture the "Straight Line Drive" effort, with daily footage sent to an office in San Francisco where it was edited in real time in order to be ready for the LA Auto Show.
- Created with agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, the campaign depicts the journey in a 90-second film that debuted at the trade convention. It includes real moments from the journey, along with preplanned scenes. The video and additional content will appear on BMW's social channels and be converted into a TV spot that will roll out in January.
Auto trade shows are historically a space where brands in the indstury try to make a strong impression with buyers for their new models. BMW went the extra mile, so to speak, for the LA Auto Show this year with a cross-country road trip that doubles as a marketing stunt and showcase for the X5's features. Blending real-life moments with more scripted situations for the promotional film could add an element of authenticity to the push that resonantes with drivers.
This isn't the first time in recent memory where BMW has leveraged vehicle stunts for a promotion. In 2017, to support its Hot Lap Pitch startup accelerator program, the automaker placed entrepreneurs in a BMW M550i that circled a racetrack at high speeds while they pitched their business ideas to venture capitalists.
However, BMW running such a big campaign specifically around the LA Auto Show might be surprising. The brand has pulled out of the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, along with competitors like Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Generally, car brands have started to view these events as costly, crowded and starting to lose some of their shine in the digital era. BMW has previously rejiggered its approach to rolling out new models. Rather than debuting its 2018 M5 model at a physical show, for example, the company revealed it in the video game "Need for Speed Payback" before hitting the usual promotional circuit.
A road trip motif has cropped up in other recent brand campaigns. Popeyes opened a drive-thru ordering window this month that was a 12-hour drive away from the nearest restaurant location. The length of the trip represented the time it takes to marinate the fast-food chain's fried chicken.