Launching the BMW Z3 Roadster Harvard Case Solution & Analysis



            Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) had a significant position in the US luxury global automotive segment. The company had focused on quality-oriented products with model prices since its inception to counter attack the prevailing competition coming from major companies such as Acura, Infiniti and Lexus. Its mission was to become ‘the best rather than the biggest’ in the automotive industry. It wanted to achieve a unit sales volume of 100,000 units in the US market, which was considered as a mark for the leading players in the industry.

            During the early 90s, there was a sudden decline in the motorcycle market, which created a gap in the industry. This gap was identified by BMW and they decided to target this niche market segment by introducing the roadster concept. This fitted well with the brand name of the company for providing luxury products and also driving excitement. This supported the corporate goal of the company by being the best and not the biggest. The concept tests were also carried out for this roadster concept for 2 years, which revealed interests among the individuals from each stage of life, including the baby boomers, image conscious generation X (men and women) who were in the 40s.

            This project had a lot of importance for the future strategic significance of the company. It was for the first time that a manufacturing plant was to be set up in Spartanburg, South Carolina, so that this concept was 100% ‘Made in USA’. This was the first step taken by the company to become the only global brand. The Vice President of Marketing, James McDowell had articulated a marketing plan for this project that would align with the lives of the American people and reside in their minds and soul. To make this possible the company focused on non-traditional marketing efforts.

            Next, BMW negotiated a deal with MGM FOR THE GoldenEye film of James Bond. This was a very good opportunity for BMW to reinforce in brand image and it was successful when the film had the largest opening weekend. The company wanted to show that it was a successful global company ahead of its all competitors in the automotive industry.


            The company was targeting a psychographic marketing segment, which demanded something unconventional and different to grab the attention of the people. Therefore, the company focused on non traditional approaches of marketing. These approaches included the product placement in GoldenEye, Neiman Marcus catalog, Press launch in Central Park, Jay Leno Show, Radio DJ Programs and dealer advertising and promotion.


            BMW was looking for a famous personality and certainly the hero of the movie GoldenEye who as a glamorous, handsome, wealthy and adventurous man fitted the brand personality of Roadster Z3. This was all without any fee in the deal and MGM got the use of prototype vehicles to promote their movie and James Bond. The MGM supported the roadster Z3 in its movie trailers and previews. The company had covered all of the costs related to prototypes and promoted the car as the James Bond’s new car. This helped the company to reach a wider audience and also it helped them to reinforce the brand image of the company.


            BMW had then planned to promote the product through the special limited edition bond roadster which was launched in the Neiman Marcus Catalogue.  Later the catalogue and the car were both shown on the Today Show. The company had initially set a goal to sell 20 units in 3 and half months. However, in actual the company had sold 100 units in just 2 days. BMW had received about 6000 orders by the end of Christmas. This non-traditional marketing approach exceeded the expectations of the company and made a great impression on the customers.


            The BMW Roadster Z3 was introduced for the first time to the public in the central park; the company also prepared the ground for the movie launch. There were about 200 representatives of the media who were all there to get the first sight on the special effects of this luxurious car.  This all created a buzz through the print media and broadcast. There were also cartoons published in some of the newspapers, including the Money Wheel and This Mornings’ business. The news was also featured in many network news channels.


            This show hosted by Jay Leno made the message spread out to a wide range of audience connected through TV. This show serves as a medium for the promotion of the BMW Roadster Z3 and the GoldenEye. The risk for this was already calculated by McDowell, however, it performed very well and helped a lot in the promotion for BMW and MGM.....................

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James McDowell, vice president of marketing for BMW North America, Inc, to develop a strategy to phase II due to start a new BMW Z3 Roadster. The program should be "out of the box"-launch campaign focuses on product placement in the November 1996 James Bond hit movie "Golden Eye", and including other "non-traditional" elements, such as the appearance of the product on the Jay Leno Tonight Show, the placement of bonds Roadster edition in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog and major public events relationships. McDowell must assess the effectiveness of the prelaunch and design marketing tactics that can sustain product excitement until product availability in March. Includes color exhibits.
To enhance their effectiveness, color cases should be printed in color. "Hide
by Susan Fournier, Robert J. Dolan Source: HBS Premier Case Collection 25 pages. Publication Date: February 14, 1997. Prod. #: 597002-PDF-ENG

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