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Launching the BMW Z3 Roadster
BMW Z3 Roadster was a new product concept that reflected a niche opportunity. The main objective of the Z3 launch was to reposition their German-made, driving performance, tradition bound, and precision engineering cars as more stylish and fun to drive cars in the American culture. This risky movement of changing the brand personality was done using both nontraditional and traditional marketing tools. Some of the nontraditional methods used were movie placement, Neiman Marcus Catalog offer, BMW internet site with “Build-Your-Own-Roadster” module, Press launch in Central Park and Jay Leno Tonight Show. Traditional methods such as TV and Print advertising were also used, while maintaining the nontraditional spirit in them. Nontraditional marketing methods are capable of creating word of mouth which requires no out-of-pocket expenditure compared to more expensive TV advertisements. They are also more cost efficient per dollar spent, especially in BMW’s psychographic segmentation. Moreover, nontraditional media like movie placement give greater exposure and visibility even reaching the two audiences that are hard-to-reach through network TV or print: foreign viewers and young people. The positive feelings about the movie and movie stars can also be transferred to the brand, ultimately building the overall brand equity. These methods are more credible, unique and impactful as they are generated by the public compared to the traditional media generated by the advertiser. Moreover, nontraditional methods are more efficient since the consumers go through only a three stage process (WOM infatuation purchase) compared to the four stage process of traditional media (awareness interest desire action). However nontraditional marketing tools can also be risky. One major risk involved in nontraditional media is the uncertainty and unpredictability. That is, it may be difficult to determine and measure whether the target saw the message, interacted with the message, or responded to it. For instance in a movie product placement, it is never known if the movie is going to bomb or not. Sometimes the negative feelings about the movie and movie stars can be transferred to the product, creating a negative word of mouth towards the brand. Moreover, there is lack of control over the planning of the campaign and integration. It is mentioned that the message content of the Jay Leno Tonight Show was unknown until the rest of the country knew it as well. Moreover, BMW had no control over the amount of time the car was shown in the movie. This was solely determined by Hollywood. BMW didn’t even have the control over the timing of the movie release. This presented a number of challenges including how to maintain the momentum and keep the customers patient. Moreover, since nontraditional delivers a broader base, the audience of the marketing campaign becomes unknown. After the success of the Phase 1 launch plan, the Phase 2 planning was undertaken with the objectives of sustaining the excitement, maximizing the conversion rate and generating demand. In phase 2 BMW focused on traditional methods such as direct mail, in-flight videos, free gifts and calendars for countdown and so on instead of having events to create excitement. However these traditional methods were less integrated with the central goal of establishing the vehicle as a cultural icon. Therefore it could have been more advisable to undertake these after the launch. Even though nontraditional marketing tools disproportionately focus on generating word of mouth it is important to use a combination of traditional and nontraditional marketing tools to reach the target market effectively.

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