LAUNCHING THE BMW Z3 ROADSTER
- Arnab Ganguly
The case deals with the launch, of the BMW Z3 roadster, a car that revolutionized and rejuvenated the American motor industry. The BMW Z3 was the first modern mass-market roadster produced by BMW, as well as the first new BMW model assembled in the United States. The very first BMW assembled in the US was the E36/4, 318i that rolled off the Plant Spartanburg assembly line beginning in October 1994. The case talks about the successful first phase launch of this new drop top beauty. The Z3 was introduced as a 1996 model year vehicle, shortly after being featured in the James Bond movie, Golden Eye. At that time Karen Sortito created the BMW campaign for the film Golden Eye. Afterwards, while the film was number one at the box office, sales of the car spiked. It focuses on the customers and how they suddenly picked up the marketing cues and stories depicted by the various promotional parties that were led by James McDowell, BMW's marketing vice president. The BMW Z3 won the "Super Reggie" award for the best promotional marketing campaign of 1995. The campaign was co-sponsored by the United Artist unit of Credit Lyonnais and by BMW of North America. The Z3 is currently used in the KONI Challenge Series.
(a) Identification of the Protagonist: James McDowell, vice president of marketing at BMW North America, Inc. is the protagonist.
(b) Macro Industry Analysis:
BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) has always been a strong name associated with quality and performance in the automobile industry. From their humble beginnings as an aircraft engine manufacturer in 1916 during World War 1, they slowly shifted into manufacturing engines for motorcycles and then finally moved into full time automobile manufacturing. In 1992, BMW acquired a large stake in California based industrial design studio Designworks USA, which they fully acquired in 1995. BMW built a $600 M plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina and needed successful launch of its products in USA to sustain operations. BMW was challenged with creating a new “made in USA” image in order to target franchise expansion toward more youthful groups.
(c) Micro Industry Analysis.
The launch of the BMW Z3 Roadster began in the spring of 1994. At this point, BMW had just opened its first US facility, and was making a branding switch from its cars being “Made in Germany” to being “Made by BMW.” Additionally, the Z3 roadster marked the beginning of a new product initiative, as it was developed as an alternative to the motorcycle, seeking to address the same “feelings, emotions and fantasies.” 2.
BMW was also seeking to change their image “from Yuppie Status Symbol to the more quality oriented Ultimate Driving Machine.” Thus, from the get go, James McDowell, BMW’s marketing Vice President who took the lead on the Z3 launch, had his work cut out for him. .
(d) Problem Identification.
Launching the BMW Z3 Roadster January 1996 marked the beginning of Phase II of BMW of North America Inc.'s Z3 roadster introduction. Phase I had centered on the placement of the new $28,750 two-seat convertible in the James Bond hit movie, Golden Eye, which premiered several months earlier. While not yet critically evaluated, results of the "out-of-the-box" pre-launch campaign appeared very positive: word-of-mouth concerning the Z3 and the James Bond cross-promotion were favorable, and product orders far exceeded BMW's initial expectations.
The challenge now was to design a marketing program that would sustain product excitement until dealer product availability beginning in March. Phase II planning had to be undertaken within the context of other important events in the BMW product family: (i) The April launch of the redesigned 5-Series
(ii) The company's role as "official international automotive sponsor" of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games, which would begin in earnest with the Olympic...
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