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, but said in 2019 he will step down at the end of his contract. His successor is Oliver Zipse, formerly head of production. 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 Daily Update 2nd Oct 2019: "The Small Escape". November marks the 30th anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, and a number of German advertisers are planning to celebrate that milestone. BMW gets in early with this fine cinematic-style drama from Jung von Matt (surely earning themselves some extra points towards the carmaker's new account review). It's odd to think now that BMW ever made bubble cars like the tiny Isetta, originally licensed from an Italian manufacturer rather than built in-house. Few post-war German families could afford a real car, so bubble cars like this, built around a motorcycle engine, were really the only affordable solution. And this is actually a true story about Klaus-Gunter Jacobi - now a guide at the Berlin Wall Museum - who helped several friends escape from East Germany in his modified car.
Adbrands Daily Update 26th Sep 2019: As had been anticipated for several months, BMW's marketing chief Jens Thiemer launched what could end up as a root-and-branch review of the carmaker's marketing roster. The review will commence in Europe, according to German trade source HorizonT, but then roll out globally. BMW currently works with several different local partners across the region. Serviceplan and Jung von Matt are the main incumbents in Germany and some other countries, but BMW also works with multiple other agencies including FCB and TBWA. At his previous employer Mercedes-Benz, Thiemer was responsible for allocating lead status to newly created German agency Antoni with regional support from a dedicated Publicis entity. Thiemer is being advised by consultancy KPMG and also the former Ogilvy Germany and Jung von Matt leader Thomas Strerath.
Adbrands Social Media 12th Aug 2019: "Choose Your X". German agency Serviceplan's hold on the global BMW account keeps getting stronger. We've noted before how this independent group has planted strategic outposts in multiple smaller markets, not just in Europe but elsewhere also, to give it greater clout with multinational clients. And with creative like this, it poses a considerable threat to rival local incumbents. This new campaign for BMW's revamped x1 and x6 models could easily have originated in the US, and were it not for the foreign numberplates, would just as easily air there. We said it before: watch out big boys, the Germans are coming!
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.
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