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Premium motoring brand BMW was one of the first companies to pull the mobile channel into its marketing mix. Here the firm’s head of digital media, who is personally responsible for many of the firm’s marketing innovations, talks to telecoms.com about why mobile works for BMW and how. German auto manufacturer BMW has a reputation for developing and implementing some of the most advanced technology in the automotive industry. And just as it has teams dedicated to innovation in motoring, so it strives, according to Marc Mielau, the BMW Group’s head of digital media, to break new ground in its marketing strategy. Chief among the innovations here is the developing use of the mobile channel. BMW has been using mobile in its marketing mix for more than five years, Mielau says, and it first turned to the medium in a bid to stimulate awareness and extend its reach at the youngest end of its addressable market. In 2004 BMW launched a new small car, the 1 Series, in a bid to gain traction in a new demographic. “It was the ‘youngest’ car in the BMW portfolio,” Mielau says, and it offered his team, “a big chance to conquer young people through the mobile channel.” In some markets BMW launched a handset in conjunction with Nokia that came with preloaded 1 Series content. In others the firm made available a downloadable racing game featuring the new car, which could be configured in different colours and with different wheels. “It enabled people to get a feeling for the car,” Mielau says. “The 1 Series looked like a BMW from the front but, unusually for a BMW, it had a hatchback. So the game was configured to show the car from behind. It was important that people could see the back of the car. We got 75,000 downloads which—at that time—was an amazing success,” he says. Over the following five years, BMW has greatly expanded the range of ways in which it is able to exploit the mobile channel. But straight advertising is not one of them. “Our philosophy is that we’re more...
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