BMW Financial pitches to gearheads

Viral video links protection plans to genuine repair parts

“The parts look expensive in that video,” Josh Wheelock, finance director at BMW of Austin, says about BMW Financial's latest online commercial. “It suggests that if you want your car to stay like that, you had better spend the money to protect it.”
The message "No Fake Reproductions Here" emerges against a backdrop of shiny gears and tinny, space-age music. That's followed by the hum of an engine, a BMW racing along a sunny speedway and an invitation to learn more by visiting

In this 46-second video there is no narration, just short, simple phrases designed to whet the viewer's appetite for more information. BMW Financial Services posted it a month ago on, and the video has lured more than 115,000 viewers.

"We're pleasantly surprised," says Shaun Bugbee, BMW Financial's vice president of sales and operations.

The video, BMW Financial's second venture into viral video as an advertising medium, targets an older demographic than its first video promoting Mini aftermarket protection products. The cheeky, humorous 1:16 spot, which featured a young, amorous couple parked in a Mini Cooper, has drawn almost 406,000 views in the five months since its launch.

BMW Financial’s online video lured 115,000 viewers in a month. Says sales chief Shaun Bugbee, “We’re pleasantly surprised.”

Limited script

The latest online commercial is designed to promote BMW Financial's updated vehicle service contract, tire and wheel protection and GAP insurance, or guaranteed automotive protection, which covers customers who owe money on their vehicles that are destroyed in a crash or stolen.

"We limited the script on purpose," Bugbee says. "We wanted to focus on BMW as the ultimate driving machine and on its engineering prowess."

The video also implies that buying a BMW-branded service plan guarantees genuine BMW-made parts will be used to maintain and repair the vehicle. In research preceding the video's production, BMW Financial found that BMW customers were especially concerned about the integrity of the parts used to service their vehicles, says Bugbee.

Finance managers at some BMW dealerships contacted by Automotive News were unfamiliar with the new video. Some said they sold few service plans because of BMW's high lease penetration.

About 50 percent of BMW customers lease their vehicles, Bugbee says. Few lease customers purchase extended service plans because lease terms are normally three years, when the vehicles are still under warranty. The 50,000-mile/48-month bumper-to-bumper limited warranty also covers factory-prescribed maintenance.

But more lessees are purchasing their off-lease vehicles, giving BMW dealers a second shot at selling service plans at the end of the lease term, he points out.

Upbeat message

Some dealerships are featuring the video on their Web sites to generate interest in aftermarket contracts. Josh Wheelock, finance director of BMW of Austin in Austin, Texas, says he has received inquiries about BMW products from viewers.

"We are using the video on our Facebook page and we are trying to incorporate it into our Web site," Wheelock says. "It's a positive message on what can be construed as a negative subject -- a car needing service.

"Nowhere do you get the feeling the car is a piece of junk," he adds. "The parts look expensive in that video. It suggests that if you want your car to stay like that, you had better spend the money to protect it."

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