BMW has successfully set the benchmark for prestige motoring since the 1980s, creating a standard now fiercely contested by other manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus. Meanwhile, the group has diversified. Having finally pulled the plug on a disastrous 1990s dalliance with Rover, the group now offers only the enormously successful relaunched Mini at the lower end of its range, and ultra-prestige Rolls-Royce marque at the top. Just as important has been the expansion of the core BMW marque with new models including the entry-level 1 series, the hugely popular X-series SUV range, and high-performance hybrid and all-electric BMW i. The group claims to be the local leader in Europe in sales of electrified vehicles, and the global leader in plug-in hybrids. It is also the only volume automobile manufacturer to concentrate exclusively on the premium passenger car sector (although it also keeps a toehold in premium motorcycles as well with BMW Motorrad). This concentration has allowed performance to soar, largely unencumbered by the continuing drag effect of the struggling European mass-market automobile sector. Volume sales have hit new highs every year since 2011, coming in just under 2.5m vehicles in 2018, including 2.1m for the main BMW brand. However, that figure was still slightly below Mercedes-Benz. BMW originally overtook its arch-rival in global sales in 2005, but the older brand fought back successfully, moving back into pole position in 2016. China is now BMW Group's single biggest market for unit sales, accounting for more than a quarter of deliveries; almost as much as the next two biggest markets - the US and Germany - combined. The X SUV series, now six models strong, accounts for almost 40% of all units sold; however the individual top-selling models are the 5 series and 3 series sedans at 383k and 366k units respectively. Group revenues were €97.5bn, with net profit of €7.2bn; both figures were down slightly on the year before. Harald Krueger is executive chairman. Though publicly quoted, BMW Group is still 47% controlled by the Quandt family, Germany's richest with a combined wealth of almost $41bn.
Capsule checked 19th October 2018
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Adbrands Social Media 22nd May 2019: "The Last Day". Dieter Zetsche is one of Germany's corporate superstars, and something close to a household name, not least because of his signature handlebar moustache. He is the man who has led automotive giant Daimler since 2006, and who oversaw the remarkable resurrection of the Mercedes-Benz brand. This week he retired from executive duties (becoming instead chairman of Daimler's supervisory board). Arch-rival BMW overtook Mercedes as the world's top luxury car brand in 2006, but were themselves pushed back into second place again in 2016. The two companies' rivalry burns as brightly as ever, but so does their mutual respect. The Munich carmaker has released this generous and charming tribute to their former nemesis, courtesy of Jung von Matt. It's the prestige equivalent of a bumper sticker that says "My other car is a BMW".
Adbrands Social Media 26th Mar 2019: "Drive It". German creative agencies are throwing down the gauntlet as never before to their US counterparts when it comes to homegrown auto brands. We've recently featured two fine English language films from Antoni Berlin for Mercedes-Benz; now it's the turn of Jung von Matt - nominally only BMW's main digital agency in Germany - to mount a challenge to the carmaker's US incumbent Goodby Silverstein, with a superb spot that is clearly intended for American consumption. It's a lovely piece of work that will go down a storm in big US cities.
Adbrands Social Media 15th Feb 2019: "Legend". BMW's new US agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners has come up with a stunning campaign to launch the carmaker's X7 fullsize SUV. The resulting spot will make its TV debut in the Oscars telecast in just over a week's time, and is suitably cinematic. The film casts the car in the role of a mighty chariot that allows its driver - Mrs McLanden presumably, but don't presume to call her "Old" - to conquer all sorts of heightened versions of everyday perils. Some lovely ideas; and superb CGI from MPC. Star director Dante Ariola is behind the camera; Chris Pine provided the voiceover.
Adbrands Daily Update 8th Jan 2019: The internecine warfare between Germany's three luxury carmakers continues. Former BMW marketing chief Hildegard Wortmann was confirmed as the new head of sales & marketing at rival Audi. It is the second senior BMW marketer to have been poached by Audi in recent weeks. Sven Schuwirth - a former Audi marketer who joined BMW at the start of 2018 - will return to the fold after only five months at the Munich company in February.
Adbrands Daily Update 13th Dec 2018: Jens Thiemer, formerly global marketing director of Mercedes-Benz until June this year, has re-emerged after a mysterious six-month disappearance. The reasons for his low profile are perhaps explained by his appointment this week as global head of marketing for Mercedes-Benz' arch-rival BMW from January 2019.
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