By on January 26, 2021

BMW published a four-minute and change ad a couple weeks ago for the start of the virtual CES 2021 show. Though this would not normally be a subject worth covering, this particular ad seems to indicate BMW believes their own E65 7-Series is for ridiculous out of touch Boomers.

Marketing departments always know what they’re doing, right?

A Story of Generations starts off with a portrayal of a circa 2008 760Li giving a “Get off my lawn!” speech to the upcoming iX crossover, BMW’s connected smart EV of the future. The iX has arrived to replace the 7-Series on a special platform at BMW HQ. The ad follows the two cars’ conversation, with the condescending and youthful iX talking to the out of touch and ancient 2008 760Li, “Hi Grandpa!”

Mocked are the 7-Series’ consumption, lack of connected capability, and generally terrible Boomer characteristics. “How do you even know what a real car is?”

The iX continues, “It’s just impossible to talk to your generation,” expanding the criticism to, I suppose, everything BMW produced circa 2008? What a stupid car, it doesn’t even talk to you in a connected, Alexa-type way! And those screen graphics! Who could ever live with that?

“An immersive experience,” iX says. “Marketing bullshit!” 7-Series replies. Ya got that right.

BMW explains the ad “A firstly superficial bragging and mocking conversation turns into a lesson about development, interdependence and caring.” The first half of that statement is certainly correct. “Future? Recycling yard,” says the iX. BMW really doesn’t want anyone to own the product they made before the iX. Around the middle of the ad, the 7-Series tries to connect to the internet, and a dial-up sound is made because people used dial-up in 2008. An electrical fault ensues because old BMWs have bad electrics, and the iX responds “OMG, did you just die?”

At that point the tone turns toward conciliatory, and the iX wants to learn things from the drunken 7-Series which actually tasted gasoline like a barbarian. She says to the 7 she just denigrated, “You are a true classic.” Clearly, BMW doesn’t believe this. The “lesson” portion of the ad is very short, and limited to about 15 seconds of the 4-minute, 16-second runtime.

At the end, the iX and 7-Series are pictured together on the platform, because they get along now and there’s space for both of them. But there actually isn’t, because the BMW employee in the start of the ad said the 7-Series had to be moved elsewhere.

The ad is too long, too cringeworthy, and sends a big middle finger to owners of older BMWs who might enjoy a car as ancient as 2008. Imagine what BMW must think of their cars from the Nineties and Eighties? The “OK Boomer” message is a poorly chosen one, and the focus on how crap your own flagship vehicle was just a few years ago isn’t the best messaging. After all, BMW was happy to sell you that new 760 in 2008, for a whopping $124,000.

But somehow this ad made it through the various levels of review and approval at BMW New Cars Only LLC. At least the message is out there now: Never buy a used BMW, because not even BMW thinks that’s a good idea.

[Images: BMW]

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46 Comments on “Adventures in Marketing: BMW Says “OK Boomer” to Its Own Flagship Vehicles...”


  • avatar
    Cicero

    This is what happens when you let 20-something year-old grievance studies majors make marketing decisions.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    “I can drive very fast.” Yep, I’ll take that and the joy of driving over some computerized blob.

    I wonder what new BMW would say about a Hellcat?

  • avatar
    ajla

    This was a terrible video in nearly every way and I can’t believe BMW allowed it to exist.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    I used to love BMWs. I honestly don’t see myself buying one in the future.

    Audi is far closer to what BMW used to be, and Alfa’s there if I want to maximize fun. If I need extra luxury, there’s always Mercedes.

    Audi (through Auto Union) and Mercedes have solid legacies that are well established. BMW’s best days are recent enough in the past that we can not only feel sad that they’ve gone astray, but we can still find perfectly good cars from their glory days that show just how wrong they’ve gotten things now.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I, too prefer modern Audis over the current crop of BMWs by far. My only beef with the Audis I have driven is that they feel nose heavy. Maybe I’m jaded by the feel of driving a bona-fide sports car, but I can feel the front tires working awfully hard. I have two friends with BMWs – a 330 and 335. I actually like the 330 best. That was my first taste of what superb brakes felt like.

    • 0 avatar
      EAM3

      We’ve had BMWs in my family since 1983. Loved them all (several 3s, a couple of 5s, one 6 and two 7 series). When the time comes to replace my ’08 335i, BMW is not even on the list. Hate the styling and I think Audi is definitely knocking it out of the park in comparison. This ad does not help either.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        The new 3 series is a nicer drive than the latest A4/S4. With adaptive dampers and general luxofication of the latest Type R, the poor Germans don’t stand a chance as upscale drivers’ sedans anymore, though.

        I suppose some consider the Type R styling a bit too much. The way the Germans have mishandled their “ultimate driving machine” heritage, there’s about a football field sized “niche” just lying there, waiting for Acura to drive a more executive’y version of the CTR into. It may not be as “quiet and refined” as the latest form Audi and BMW. But then again, neither were Audis and BMWs back when they were drivers’ cars.

    • 0 avatar
      4onthefloor

      @Garrett
      I second that emotion.

    • 0 avatar
      4onthefloor

      @Garrett
      I second that emotion.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    If the company that used to make “the ultimate driving machine” still used that slogan then perhaps it wouldn’t make such an inane commercial and perhaps its product would continue to distinguish itself as a driving machine rather than as a gadget-laden toaster.

    I owned an ’01 Z3 3.0 until 2015. Obviously, I loved the car. Whether it was “ultimate” I am not qualified to say, but it was very much a driving machine.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    90s/early 00s were BMW’s apogee. The Bangle era ended that in a hurry. Not in terms of reliability (that’s for sure) but for fun and coolness…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Sunny today in Clown World with a high of 68, and now back to Chet in the news room.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    “At least the message is out there now: Never buy a used BMW, because not even BMW thinks that’s a good idea.”

    Well put, Corey. Dumping on your own “legacy” product is a terrible marketing idea.

  • avatar
    Burnout2SS

    This reminds me of Oldsmobile selling cars by saying “it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”. That was a nail in their coffin. This has to be the worst car commercial I have ever seen.

    • 0 avatar
      msquare

      That had to be the stupidest campaign ever.

      Oldsmobile was always GM’s cutting-edge division. Any new GM innovation was usually introduced on Oldsmobiles first. GM’s first automatic transmissions, turbochargers, front wheel drive, all on Olds first before the other divisions got a whiff. If you were of the means and thought Buick was too stodgy and Cadillac too pretentious, you bought an Oldsmobile. You also bought an Olds if you were an early adopter of the latest and greatest.

      So your father’s Oldsmobile was a hell of a car (a 4-4-2 anyone?) and your dad was a pretty cool guy.

      Same goes here for BMW. You do not dis a previous product you advertised as the Ultimate Driving Machine. Particularly when Cadillac has been making better Ultimate Driving Machines than you lately.

      As for Cadillac, another can of worms altogether.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        By the time the “your father’s Oldsmobile” campaign came out, I think the brand was too far gone to be saved by advertising. Their customers had all bought Hondas. Their stuff improved a lot, but in the end, they were trying to peddle American cars to people who had stopped buying American cars for a reason.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I. Am. Speechless.

    It’s like General Electric mocking the incandescent light bulb.
    True, it is not efficient compared to fluorescent or LED lamps.
    But its invention and commercialization truly freed humanity from darkness, and let’s not forget, it was the foundation on which the mighty General Electric Corp was built.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    My Audi from 2008 is doing very well, thank you. I was looking at Audi masks last year, and saw one with the front view of an S5 on it, that said “OK, Bimmer!”

    The building they are in, by the way, is BMW World in Munich. We stopped by to see it several years ago, back when one could still travel. It’s by Coop Himmelblau Architects, as I recall. BMW’s building, at least, is nicer than Audi’s.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Not like they lost a sale here. Heck I am known to lease and I still wouldn’t touch the reliability freakshow that is a modern BMW.

    Marketing is the least of their issues. They could start to come back by eliminating the “rod bearings are a consumable” design of their modern V8s and maybe do something with the styling. Forget the Japanese and South Koreans…North Korean designs look better.

  • avatar

    Goodbye Boomers, Hello Snowflakes!. Hello, hello, I don’t know why you say hello, I say goodbye.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “What if we just made an electric 3-Series?”

    NO! It has to be annoying and ridiculous!

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “Electric drive yourself to Hell, Tamagotchi! Ha ha ha ha ha!”

    Corey, you forgot to be offended at this part.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Millenials appear to be unaware that many old cars auction for incredible dollar amounts.

    The phenomenon isn’t limited to cars. I know many people who seek out older, less technical but purpose-focused products and pay handsomely for them. Vintage tools, audio gear and appliances have a very loyal following.

    This is the most tone-deaf ad I’ve seen in a while.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I just dumped a fair amount of money into my 98K mile 2007 X5 to keep it on the road for a few more years. It still looks and drives like new. Real hydraulic steering feel, side view mirrors large enough to actually see things, and an old school boxy shape that’s practical for carrying cargo. And with a smart phone connected to the aux input, it has all the connectedness and technology one could want, without the annoyances that inevitably accompany modern connected vehicles.

    I’ll grant that it’s been expensive to maintain over the years, but that’s baked into the acquisition cost of these vehicles, which can be had dirt cheap once they are four or five years old.

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      I’m in the exact same place with my ’08 CTS. The main reason I keep it is the hydraulic steering feel and the fact that it still feels like an analog car. I figure keep it for a few more years, jump straight into an electric, and I’ll skip the whole “in-between” phase of bad electric steering and slow touchscreen implementations that has characterized cars from the 2010s. Just straight from analog to full digital.

  • avatar

    I bought an e46 330i, build to order-BMW even allowed me to order the euro cloth black interior, not on the US menu. Joined local BMW chapter. Ran it over 300k before rust won. The microfiber cloth seats were still in excellent condition.

    Best car ever. Had it been available with modern electrics you’d have sold me another one with only “what color this time ?”. Only thing better was driving the S54 once. Peak was e90 M3 with the V8.

    I don’t know if you lost it, or an employee stole it, but the book of handling has gone missing, along with the styling. My 330 used to get hand prints on the window from folks looking in. The F30 and yes, even the late model M2 I drove have just returned from the dentist as far as steering goes, and need to re think the morning makeup routine.

    Your competitor sits in the driveway.

    It’s not me, it’s you…..

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      One of the best drives in my life was in a manual e90 335 sedan about 11 years ago – the handling and steering were just amazing. The car felt like an extension of me. It was expensive, but not ridiculously so.

      Flash forward to a couple of years back, and I was looking at CPO F30s, and man…what a disappointment. Like you said, they had just stepped out of the dentist’s office. And the interiors felt cheap and creaky.

      And today, BMW offers this iX, which looks like exactly like a Nissan Rogue that costs at least twice as much, the ugly 2-gran-whatever-they-call-it, another novacaine-special 3-series, and a bunch of silly crossovers.

      Used to be you could get something great, like your old 330, for what would work out to about 45 grand. Now, anything decent is sixty-five, minimum, and the really good stuff will cost you upwards of a hundred.

      Now this iX.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I don’t focus on marketing bulls**t and millenial vs. boomer bulls**t because in the end, both are just that – bulls**t. Whatever. If you want a real takeaway, here it is – silly front-end treatment aside, the brand-new iX looks a lot like a Rogue.

    In the end, it’s product that matters, and this new BMW, which will probably sell for upwards of $60-70,000, looks like a $25,000 Nissan. But, wait, it gets worse – if we’re comparing BMW and Nissan electric SUVs, Nissan’s upcoming Ariya looks pretty tasty, and will sell for about half the price of the BMW. I know which one I’d buy.

    https://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ariya-764B7225-640×353.jpg

    The WTF here isn’t silly marketing videos – it’s product, and BMW’s looks like s**t.

  • avatar
    wolfwagen

    What. The. Hell. Did. I .Just. Watch?

    As Simon Cowell would say: Bloody awful.

    When the iX said “I react to gesture”, did anyone else think “I have a gesture for you?”

    BMW you have officially gone to hell

  • avatar
    sckid213

    “Take your electric drive to hell, Tamagochi!” ????!!!

    This is one of the worst marketing videos I have ever seen from any brand. It makes me think MUCH less of the brand if this is its attitude going forward.

    I will always remember watching this video as the moment BMW fully jumped the shark for me.

    P.S. I think they are going to struggle badly in the EV luxury market, making a video like this even worse.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Good Discussion, and now…

    This is the time on Sprockets when we dance!!!

    youtube.com/watch?v=QHZR9SA5pOg

  • avatar
    conundrum

    The ad has been criticised elsewhere in more dunning terms than even the B&B managed.

    But then, considering the absolute crap front ends BMW has been producing lately, with the thrusting double piggy snout, oink oink, this piece of mindless crud ad about sums up how lost BMW is. The iX is ugly, the Rogue actually looks better.

    European sites give the iX about 1 out of 10 on styling, and seem to think BMW has looked so far up its own backside it has reappeared further up and become recursive. Car-wise, their entry level grot is warmed-over tinny MINI on the same platform, then we are offered the 4 series, newly uglified. The i3 EV puddle jumper is still about for reasons known only to BMW such that they managed to unload 25,000 to shoppers in Europe last year on the basis of presumed familiarity alone. The new iX, well who knows, it’ll probably sell anyway over there, where the Renault Zoe passed the Tesla 3 in sales in 2020 and which sold 8% fewer in absolute terms, and the VW ID3 is now selling at a faster rate than either of these two, but was only available from mid-year.

    Dissing their own old BMW product to appeal to whatever the hell-it-is called these days 20 something generation with no money seems like the marketing move of the decade. Ahem. Instead of producing bad PR, they need to hire some designers and stylists with a clue about cohesion of form. Morphing the double kidney grille into Miss Piggy doesn’t really seem like a great move. I see far fewer new BMWs on the roads these days, but then crossovers/CUVs/two box vehicles are so common and in such dull colors, maybe there’s plenty and I just haven’t noticed, or could be bothered to notice, for that matter.

    As for talking to cars,and them talking back, a ridiculous idea to an old gent who prefers inanimate objects to remain that way, the thought of having a constant Alexa spy worrying about my household supply of toilet paper and flogging off my data and travel habits so other advertisers can sidle up and sell me crap I don’t want like campfire-ready double crunch cornflakes or frozen cardboard pizza, I cannot be bothered with new spy “tech”. The major reason I bought a car last year that I believed didn’t have this stuff, that doesn’t phone home 24/7, or had navigation, was to keep my privacy my privacy. Even then, funnily enough, it still has a GPS in there somewhere. It’s a Mazda6 turbo cheapo edition for Canada, but it even tells me elevation change as it climbs up the driveway, and has a huge compass on the info screen in case I forgot the sun rises in the east, plus an electric clock of such poor quality that it lost a minute a day until I switched it to GPS time. So there’s a gremlin in the works there somewhere anyway. Great. Plugging in my phone for the first time was a revelation — instead of the usual laggy response Google was right there NOW on Android Auto, panting like a thirsty dawg. Considering I know my way around my rural slow-to-develop province, having practised for over 50 years and possessing an actual memory myself, I haven’t bothered connecting the phone again. But then the pandemic hasn’t actually been a promoter of long road trips even to visit relatives, either, and talk radio is all I need or desire on short trips. Far more fun discovering how to fool the traction control for max acceleration takeoffs and lively tire howl that reminds me of my youth. If you leave the steering straight ahead, no squeal and traction control. Turn it just a tad off center and goose it, and you can impress small boys and yourself in a yee haw way. That’s motoring, not creeping around under surveillance hoping for the best. In fact, with snow tires, goosing it at 25 mph produces a small amount of wheelspin and prodigious thrust to beyond 50 mph before third comes in and continues the fun. The car sort of prods you to be a bit infantile by being quite eager, and I like that. Would I have experienced a better life by spending twice as much on a BMW 3 Series or A4? Doubtful. Not even that much better of an interior if at all, and guess who’s number 1 in CR reliability? It isn’t BMW.

  • avatar
    4onthefloor

    Yup. Mazda. My new love. It ain’t perfect, but it’s really good, and that’s enough for me. I’m hoping it doesn’t spy on me, and if I find out it does, I’m not going to be happy. I know some info is required to be stored, but some are worse than others. Ahem Tesla cough.

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