Observations by Claire Irving

Last year we moved from the UK to the States. There’s not much I miss about England – certainly not the British weather, whining as a national sport or even the National Health Service.  Yet, one thing I miss more and more is our BMW.  We were proud owners of a silver 5 series touring.  It could comfortably accommodate our rabble of boys and its capacious trunk warmly coveted the significant amount of gear that comes with a family of five. However, being a BMW owner isn’t cheap, the purchase alone could pay three lots of annual school fees and the servicing bill used to bring on a migraine.  Little wonder one of the acronyms for the brand is Borrows My Wallet.

So when we moved to New York we decided to plump for a more pragmatic version of premium.  We bought an Acura MDX (for those outside the Americas, an Acura is to Honda what Lexus is to Toyota).  So what was its main attraction?  It met our practical requirements as a family, it was cheaper than a BMW, and unlike some of the American luxury car brands, I didn’t feel like I was driving a bus or a tank.  People told me an Acura was an equivalent car to the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Volvo.  In my view BMW uniquely delivers an aligned brand experience that leaves its peers at the green light.

The experience of being in our BMW was like taking a long deep, calming breath.  I often hypothesized if every person owned a BMW road rage would be a thing of the past – drivers would contentedly glide along, relishing the opportunity to linger in their cars’.  It’s amazing how a car can de-stress you but the Beemer did it every time.  I’ve never been in another car with that gift. Within the BMW I felt totally cocooned.  You couldn’t hear the rush of the wind past the windows or feel the vacuum from passing trucks.  On acceleration it felt as though I was driving a plane down a runway - the car had such a strong command and feeling of power.  You knew you could rely on the car to help you tackle any situation or condition you met on the road.

I loved my time in the BMW.  It was respite from the craziness of the day’s routine, it didn’t matter when we got stuck in traffic - we were in a joyous place where the chaos and distraction of the outside world couldn’t get to me.  And the kids used to be quiet too – lulled by the BMW’s rhythmic cadence.  Driving time was my time - an indulgence, a true luxury – like drinking a cappuccino without anyone saying “Mom,” reading Vogue cover to cover, doing Pilates or watching Damages with a hot chocolate.  Now when I see a BMW I look longingly at it, I take sneaky peeks at their website and enjoy a saunter around the local BMW dealership to savor the cars’ beauty.  These are not cars.  They are works of art.  And art inspires passion.

In my opinion BMW is the Daddy of the mega brands, they are:

–  Focused - clear about what makes their brand unique and disciplined in how they deliver their promise of being the “ultimate driving machine.”* Every detail and experience supports it.

–  Outward orientated – they consistently innovate and tap into the sociological trends that dictate what consumers want from their cars and the corporations behind the products.

–  Leaders of the category debate – they led the category by positioning BMW as experience seeded in an emotional relationship, it doesn’t just deliver a functional experience, BMW “creates joy.”*

–  Totally brand-centric – their brand is a powerful communications vehicle but also plays a critical role in defining their culture, work practices, operations and environments.

Their plant in Leipzig attests to this. Designed by innovative architects, BMW boldly integrated managers and production staff in a cutting edge facility. Together they inspire each other to be “great thinkers and innovators.”*

And if anyone from BMW is reading this, I’m open to an offer of a car, even for hour – I won’t drool on the leather, or let the kids eat in it, promise!


http://www.bmwusa.com (accessed 9th August 2011)*