Ballsy BMW April Fool’s campaign cons consumers

BMW wants to show that it has a sense of humor - despite its obsession with engineering excellence - or at least that was the message of an April Fool's campaign designed to dupe BMW employees and customers alike.

BMW wants to show that it has a sense of humor – despite its obsession with engineering excellence – or at least that was the message of an April Fool’s campaign designed to dupe BMW employees and customers alike.

The one-day, nationwide campaign ran April 1 and included a quartet of print ads targeting ‘anyone and everyone,’ says Robert Lewocz, VP, group account director at Toronto-based Cundari Integrated Advertising, the ad shop that has created advertising for the auto-panther since 1997. ‘People think of BMW as a traditional, staunch organization. Here, we’re having fun, showing a more personable side to the brand.’

The campaign is in line with BMW’s core value – joy – adds Hendrik von Kuenheim, BMW’s CEO and president, adding that the advertising ‘is not designed to sell more cars, but to build the brand personality.’

Running in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and the Toronto Star, one print ad featured a driver sleeping comfortably behind the wheel, promoting a built-in feature that starts to steer as you doze off. The tagline reads, ‘Lose consciousness, not control.’ Another ad touted built-in absorption pores that keep your car clean in any weather. And a third ad showed a state-of-the-art BMW golf cart.

The ads play on BMW’s history of ‘innovation,’ but Lewocz admits that the campaign ran the risk of fooling some customers all too successfully. For a week following April Fool’s, consumers have the chance to find out via the Web site that they have been punk’d à la Ashton Kutcher, a move that could leave some clients feeling deceived.

But BMW and its agency don’t fear legions of confused, angry callers. ‘Effective advertising polarizes,’ says Aldo Cundari, Cundari’s chairman and CEO, ‘Some will hate [the campaign]; most people will love it.’

Von Kuenheim agrees: ‘There is a small chance that a customer might call us about the products. However, the vast majority of BMW customers are sophisticated and intelligent.’

Client: BMW

Agency: Cundari Integrated Advertising

Creative Directors: Fred Roberts, Paul Evans

Copywriters: Cory Eisentraut, Rob Gendron

Art Directors: Scott Annandale, Richard Martella

Studio Designer: George Kanellakis

Information Technology: Erwin Rivera

Strategic Development: Robert Lewocz, Annabel Zbogar