Season 1 Ambush Chosen The Follow Star Powder Keg Season 2 Hostage Ticker Beat the DevilThe HireFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe BMW film series, The Hire was a series of eight short films (averaging about ten minutes each) producedfor the Internet in 2001 and 2002. A form of branded content, all eight films featured popular filmmakers fromacross the globe, starred Clive Owen as the "Driver", and highlighted the performance aspects of various BMWautomobiles.PlotThe plots of each of the films differ, but one constant remains: Clive Owen plays "The Driver", a man who goesfrom place to place (in presumably rented BMW automobiles), getting hired by various people to be a sort oftransport for their vital needs.HistoryOn April 26, 2001, John Frankenheimers Ambush premiered on the BMW Films website and, two weeks later,was followed by Ang LeesChosen. Soon after, director Wong Kar-Wai was tapped to make a third filmentitled The Follow, a dramatic piece about a runaway wife being followed by "The Driver". The film debuted atthe Cannes Film Festival and received rave reviews. It was followed by Guy Ritchies Starand AlejandroGonzález Iñárritus Powder Keg.After the series began, BMW saw their 2001 sales numbers go up 12% from the previous year. The movieswere viewed over 11 million times in four months. Two million people registered with the website and a largemajority of users, registered to the site, sent film links to their friends and family.The films proved to be so popular that BMW ended up producing a free DVD for customers who visited certainBMW dealerships. However, BMW hit a small snag and ran out of DVDs. In September, BMW and VanityFair magazine decided to release a more public version of The Hire. Unfortunately, the Vanity Fair disc did
not include Wong Kar-Wais The Follow. This DVD was also distributed at select dealerships as the first versioncould no longer be legally distributed. Forest Whitaker had an uncredited part in the movie and had only agreedto be in the film if it were shown exclusively on the Internet. When the movie was released to DVD, Whitakerallegedly exercised an option in his contract which stipulated that the movie would not be released in any otherformat without authorization from the actor himself. The second disc, in lieu of carrying The Follow contained alink to the website with instructions to the viewer to watch the movie online.Nonetheless, the DVD was highly sought on Internet forums as the September issue of Vanity Fair quicklyvanished from shelves and became a rare find. BMW also pulled off a major coup when the movies werereviewed by Time Magazine and The New York Times who praised BMW for creating entertaining content for"discerning movie watchers".The series continued in October 2002, replacing producer David Fincher with Ridley and Tony Scott due toFinchers continuing work onPanic Room.Season 2 opened in big, loud fashion by debuting a dark action/comedy piece by Tony Scott called Beat theDevil. The movie, shot in Scotts trademark pseudo-psychedelic style, featured James Brown enlisting TheDriver to take him to Las Vegas to re-work a decades-old deal he made with the devil which evidently gaveBrown his "fame and fortune".Some differences were evident. Whereas the first season was serious and subdued with tiny bursts of actionand comedy, the second season was all flash and fun. To fit this motif, John Woo and Joe Carnahan werehired to direct Hostage and Ticker, respectively. The other main difference was that, instead of showcasingseveral different BMW cars (like the first season had done), the only car showcased was the then-new BMW Z4Roadster.To celebrate the premiere of the second season, BMW threw a party at the ArcLight Hollywood on October 17,2002, just a week before the movies internet debut. The party, co-hosted by Vanity Fair, also served as acharity and benefit for the homeless.A month after the premiere of Beat the Devil, DirecTV began airing the entire series, in half-hour loops for fivefull weeks, on one of the blank satellite channels the system offered. The films were a success and, as a result,DirecTV considered using blank channels to air other companies ads as well.In 2003, BMW decided to make a third (and final) DVD compilation of The Hire. The new DVD made its debutat The Palais des Festival during the 2003 Cannes Film Festival and contained all eight movies, includingWong Kar-Wais previously absent The Follow. Once again, the disc became available at select dealershipsbut fans could also obtain the disc for a nominal shipping fee via the BMW Films website.During the last quarter of 2004, Dark Horse Comics and BMW planned to publish a 6-issue comic book limitedseries based on the main character of the films. The books were written by Kurt Busiek, BruceCampbell, Katsuhiro Otomo, and Mark Waid as well as other comic book talent. Only four books wereproduced. "Tycoon" was the last book released (in December 2005). While the comics are still able to be
purchased in collector shops and some comic book stores, they are no longer able to be purchased on theBMW website.On October 21, 2005, BMW stopped distribution of The Hire on DVD and removed all eight films from theBMWFilms website just four years after the first film debuted. The series was abandoned, reportedly becausethe project had become too expensive. BMWs Vice President of Marketing James McDowell, originator of theBMWFilms project, left BMW to become the VP of sales and marketing for BMWs "Mini USA" division. BMWalso split from longtime ad partner Fallon Worldwide which was the creative production outlet for the series andBMWs German division had attempted to become involved with the US division of the company, cuttingcosts.The end results were staggering: the series had been viewed over 100 million times in four years and hadchanged the way products were advertised.Copies of the DVD are still commonly found in Internet shops and auction sites. The movies themselvescontinue to appear on many torrent searches and viral video sites around the Internet.In early 2006, BMW released a line of free "BMW Audiobooks" to take advantage of the iPod/mp3-playerrevolution (and the fact that most BMWs came with the "iPod connector" pre-installed in their vehicles). Whilethe stories had the same pulp-action feel as The Hire, the character of "The Driver" was noticeably absent. Theaudiobooks were free (like the films that preceded them) but are no longer available for download from theBMW website.On February 17, 2007, MINI (BMW) launched a new short film series called, Hammer and Coop. The series isa comedic parody of 1970s action-television shows like Starsky & Hutch and Charlies Angels, and showcasesBMWs "Mini-Cooper" line of cars as the featured product.DetailsSeason 1AmbushWhile escorting an elderly man to an undisclosed location, The Driver is confronted by a van full of armed menand is warned that the old man has stolen a large amount of diamonds. The old man claims to have swallowedthe diamonds and that the men will likely cut him open to retrieve them. The Driver decides at the last minute tohelp him, participating in a car chase and shootout with the van. The Driver eventually evades his pursuers andwatches their destruction. He then delivers the old man to a town nearby and asks the merchant if he didindeed swallow the diamonds. The client merely chuckles and walks away. The Driver then leaves. with Tomas Milian Directed by John Frankenheimer Written by Andrew Kevin Walker Featured the BMW 740iChosen
The Driver protects a holy Asian child that was brought to America by boat. The child gives the Driver a gift butsays that he is not supposed to open it yet. After being pursued by many armed assassins, and being grazed inthe ear, he delivers the boy to another holy man. The Boy however signals silently to the Driver that the man isnot actually a monk, indicated by his footwear. The Driver defeats the impostor holy man and rescues the boy.As he leaves the Driver opens the gift which is revealed to be a Hulk bandage for his bleeding ear. Directed by Ang Lee Written by David Carter Featured the BMW 540iThe FollowMain article: The Hire: The FollowThe Driver is hired by a nervous movie manager to spy on a paranoid actors wife. During his tailing of the wife,the Driver describes the right way to tail someone. As he follows her he begins to fear what he might learn ofher apparently tragic life. He discovers the wife is fleeing the country and returning to her mothers, and thatshes been given a black eye, likely by her husband. He returns the money for the job, refusing to tell where thewife is, and drives off telling the manager never to call him again. with Forest Whitaker, Mickey Rourke, and Adriana Lima Directed by Wong Kar-wai Written by Andrew Kevin Walker Featured the BMW 330i Coupé and the Z3 roadsterStarThe Driver is chosen by a spoiled and shallow celebrity to drive her to a venue. Unbeknownst to her, hermanager has actually hired the Driver to teach the celebrity a lesson. Pretending to escape her pursuingbodyguards, the Driver recklessly drives through the city, tossing the hapless celebrity all around the backseat.They arrive at the venue, where she is thrown out of the car and photographed by paparazzi in anembarrassing end on the red carpet. with Madonna Directed by Guy Ritchie Written by Joe Sweet and Guy Ritchie Featured the BMW M5Powder KegThe Driver is chosen by the UN to rescue a wounded war photographer named Harvey Jacobs from a hostileterritory. While they are leaving Jacobs tells the Driver about the horrors he saw as a photographer, but heregrets his inability to help war victims. Jacobs answers the Drivers curiosity about why he is a photographerby saying how his mother taught him to see. He gives the Driver the camera film needed for a New YorkTimes story and also his dog tags to give to his mother. When they reach the border, they are confronted by a
guard who begins to draw arms as Jacobs begins taking pictures, seemingly trying to get himself killed. TheDriver drives through a hail of gunfire to the border, but finds Jacobs killed by a bullet through the seat. TheDriver arrives in America to visit Jacobs mother and share the news of him winning the Pulitzer Prize and handover the dog tags, only to discover that she is blind. with Stellan Skarsgård and Lois Smith Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu Written by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Guillermo Arriaga and David Carter Featured the BMW X5 3.0iSeason 2HostageThe Driver is hired by the FBI to help defuse a hostage situation. A disgruntled employee has kidnapped aCEO and has hidden her, demanding $5,088,042. The Driver delivers the money, writing the sum on his handas instructed by the hostage taker. After he is told that he holds the life of a person in his hand, he is ordered toburn the money. As he complies, the federal agents break in and attempt to subdue the man, who shootshimself in the head without revealing where the woman is hidden. The Driver then tries to find the hostagebefore she drowns in the trunk of a sinking car. As a twist, the kidnapped woman is revealed to be the hostagetakers lover. She coldly taunts the dying man in the hospital. with Maury Chaykin and Kathryn Morris Directed by John Woo Written by David Carter, Greg Hahn and Vincent Ngo Featured the BMW Z4 3.0iTickerIn an unnamed foreign country, the Driver drives a wounded man who carries a mysterious briefcase, whileunder helicopter attack. During the attack the briefcase is struck by a bullet, causing a display on it to begincounting down, and it to leak an unknown fluid from the bullet hole. The Driver manages to cause the helicopterto crash, but refuses to proceed without knowing the contents of the damaged briefcase. It is revealed that theman guards a human heart for transplant to a statesman (shown in military uniform), whose lifeand peacemaking is needed for the continued freedom of the countrys people. The case is delivered by theDriver in time for the surgery. Also present are another military officer whom the passenger had said would takeover the country with tyranny if his superior died (and whose uniform matches the soldiers who had tried tointercept the heart), and US agents who ensure that he does not interfere with the surgery, and so is forced togive up his attempt to take the country by force. with Don Cheadle and F. Murray Abraham cameos by Ray Liotta, Robert Patrick, Clifton Powell and Dennis Haysbert as US agents. Written and directed by Joe Carnahan
Featured the BMW Z4 3.0iBeat The DevilThe Driver is employed by James Brown, who goes to meet the Devil to re-negotiate the deal he made as ayoung man in 1954 to trade his soul for fame and fortune. He is worried about his ageing and the fact he canno longer do his moves like the splits, and says his lessened ability to perform means he cannot maintain hisfame and fortune. He proposes a new wager, for the stakes of the Drivers soul against another 50 years for hiscareer, betting on the Driver drag racing against the Devils doorman/driver Bob on the Las Vegas Strip atdawn. The race ends with the Driver swerving to pass around a train while the Devils car crashes andexplodes. Having won the race, the Driver leaves James Brown in the desert, but as he drives away he seeshim as a young man again, who then does a handspring into the splits. The final scene shows MarilynManson who lives down the hall from the Devil, complaining that the noise is disturbing his bible reading, muchto the Devils fear. with James Brown, Gary Oldman, Clive Owen and Danny Trejo cameo by Marilyn Manson Directed by Tony Scott Written by David Carter, Greg Hahn and Vincent Ngo Featured the BMW Z4 3.0i"The Subplot Films"Four smaller movies, dubbed "The Subplot Movies" were shot and directed by Ben Younger. Lacking any realstyle (and appearing to be shot with a standard consumer-level DV-cam), they were designed to "fill in thegaps" between the five films and featured a man who appeared to be tracking "The Driver", finding "clues"usually scribbled, in pen, on small pieces of paper. The movies, at first glance, have no real connection to the"Driver" movies at all and made no real sense. Little did viewers realize that the "clues" in the movie were partof a hidden game that would lead intuitive fans to a party in Las Vegas, Nevada.Contest/Game & PartyShortly after the release of the "Subplot Films", reports circulated around the Internet that Apple, Starbucks,BMW Films First Illinois Mortgage, and Susstones all had a small, hidden link on their website that had a directconnection with the movies. Upon further investigation, three phone numbers and a web address were found inthe four films, which led many viewers to call those numbers and go to that website.Thousands took to the web, taking place in the hunt but only 250 actually solved the puzzle, which allowed thelucky few to be entered in a drawing to win a 2003 BMW Z4, seen inHostage.The final piece of the puzzle was a voicemail, instructing participants to meet with a correspondent in LasVegas, the site of a VIP Party for BMW where the Grand Prize Z4 was given away to a couple from Bellingham,Washington. The First Prize was a BMW Q3.s mountain bike, awarded to a student from the University ofNew Hampshire.
InfluencesSeveral companies attempted to capitalize on the success of BMWs film series. In 2002, the Nissan carcompany produced their own short film featuring their newly introduced 350Z. Entitled The Run, the movie wasdirected by John Bruno, a James Cameron protege who worked with Cameron on True Lies, TheAbyss and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The film was shown in theaters before feature films in November2002. Nissan offered a DVD of the film for $9.95. A few years later, Bombardier Recreational Productscompany introduced a series of short movies on the Internet which showcased their "Sea-Doo" line of personalwater craft (PWC) while Covad Business also constructed a campy internet horror film based on theirproducts called The Ringing with the intent of showcasing VoIP technology.http://www.amplimark.com/branding-and-marketing/BMW-films.shtmlCase Study : BMW Films In 2002, BMW produced a series of eight short films (averaging about ten minutes each) exclusively for internetusers. This web-only short film series "The Hire", starring Clive Owens was a unique marketing experiment by BMW.All eight films featured popular filmmakers from across the globe, and highlighted the performance aspects of variousBMW automobiles. More than 11 million viewers tuned in to watch these web only short films and over 2 millionregistered on BMW website and large majority of users, registered to the site, sent film links to their friends andfamily. In next four years, it is estimated that these videos were viewed over 100 million times!What is even more remarkable is that BMW launched and successfully executed this campaign inspite of the fact thatthere wasnt a mass market content streaming platform such as YouTube back then.After the series began, BMW saw their 2001 sales numbers go up 12% from the previous year. The films proved tobe so popular that BMW ended up producing a free DVD for customers who visited certain BMW dealerships. Thissmall marketing move significantly improve dealer traffic.How Did They Do It?BMW films was one of the early viral marketing attempts on the internet. These films were not some marketing videosproduced by BMW marketing. They were passive in terms of brand advertising. For example, you can replace theBMW car in the film by another brand but core story in the film still made sense. These films made a strong emotionalconnection with the viewers regardless of their affinity to BMW brand. Also, these films very cleverly have a centralcharacter called The Driver who "helped people through difficult circumstances using deft driving skills-in aprominent." The whole idea was to project the "Ultimate Driving Machine" image to support the release of newvehicles.While this viral marketing effort was unproven and untested at the time of conception, there were few things BMWknew about its customers that spurred them to create this campaign. For example, BMW discovered thatapproximately 85% of their customers researched the vehicles on the internet before purchasing them. According toan article by Tom Hespos, the films were the basis for an extremely successful viral campaign, almost all of thepeople who downloaded the movies recommended them to other people.The BMW Films project was one of those moments when an advertising campaign is so powerful that it didnt needan established platform to work with. BMW successfully promoted its brand and the particular Z4 product that was atthe heart of the promotion. People took the underlying message to heart and walked away with a very positive deepbrand experience.
BMW VIRAL MARKETING CAMPAIGNA series of Short Films: The Hire (2001 -2005) Introduction: In 2002, BMW did a unique marketing experiment by launching a campaign of eight short films exclusively for internet users. This web-only short film series was named “The Hire”. BMW picked up the popular filmmakers from the world for these films, starring “Clive Owens” in all the films. These films highlighted the performance aspects of various BMW automobiles. Features: One of the early viral marketing attempts on the internet A passive style of Brand Advertising No support of YouTube A central theme in all the videos Projected the theme of “the ultimate driving machines” Free DVDs videos of for customers at all showrooms. Significant improve in dealer traffic
Season 1 (2001)Based on Serious theme with few part of action and comedyUsed a lot of BMW car models in the seriesReleased short films Ambush Chosen The Follow Star Powder KegSeason 2 (2002)Based on theme of flash and funUsed only one BMW model Z4 RoadsterReleased short films Hostage Ticker Beat the DevilSupportive Activities: BMW Audio-books Contest, Game & Party The Subplot films BMW dealership showroooms Magazine : Vanity Fair Got positive media review Airing the entire series on empty satellite channel (Direct TV) Cannes film festival BMW Films website Through “Dark Horse Comics”Effects: 12% increase in 2002 year sales over 2001 Significant improve in dealer traffic More than 11 million viewers within four months of launch. 2 million registrations on BMW website within few months. Most of viewers sent the link to their friends and relatives.
More than 100 million views in the next four years and still continue…