BMW brings home the gold with Olympic advertising
BMW was the official automotive partner of the Olympics and sponsored a fleet of 3,200 vehicles that shuttled athletes and VIPs around London.
Photo credit: Bloomberg
DETROIT -- It's safe to say the London Olympics were a success for the United States, which won 104 medals, the most of any country. But the games also were a triumph for BMW of North America and General Motors, which, driven by record ratings on NBC, experienced measurable buzz among consumers as a result of advertising.
Traffic to BMW's American Web site increased 26 percent over the course of the games, which ran July 27-Aug. 12, compared with the beginning of July, said Trudy Hardy, BMW of North America's marketing communications manager. More than half of the viewers were first-time visitors to the BMW site.
The number of people who configured vehicles on BMW's site also increased 22 percent, Hardy said. Those who take the time to outfit a vehicle online are more likely to eventually go to a dealership and buy a vehicle.
"We certainly saw a great deal of initial return, I think, on our overall advertising investment," Hardy said. "I think just from the reaction we've seen over the two-week period, we've had a significant increase of Web traffic and that's one of your leading indicators right out of the gate."
GM used the Olympics to help launch its initial advertising campaign for the new Cadillac ATS, which is scheduled to go on sale later this year. GM said its web traffic rose 60 percent, and was up 88 percent for the ATS's page on the GM Web site.
BMW was the official automotive partner of the Olympics, providing more than 3,200 vehicles to the games' organizers to ferry athletes and others around London. More visibly, though, for U.S. viewers, BMW was the sole foreign automaker that advertised on the NBC platforms during the Olympics. The campaign was BMW of North America's largest ever, but the company declined to say how much it spent on the advertising.
GM was the only domestic automaker to advertise during the games.
BMW of North America's campaign was its largest ever, but the company declined to say how much it spent on the advertising.
NBC said the games were the most-watched TV event in U.S. history, drawing in 219.4 million viewers to its networks over the duration of the Olympics. There were also 159 million video streams on NBC's online, iPhone and iPad live streams of the games.
BMW also earned a 226 percent increase in social media comments during the first 10 days of the Olympics, according to a study by social media analytics firm Bluefin Labs published by Advertising Age, an affiliate of Automotive News.
Bluefin compared social media buzz during the first 10 days of the Olympics with the 10 days before the Opening Ceremony.
The social media hype continued throughout the games. The number of Twitter users who followed the BMW USA account increased 300 percent during the Olympics, Hardy said.
For GM, YouTube views climbed 1,100 percent, and its total social media accounts experienced a 30-percent increase in traffic.
Views on BMW's YouTube channel increased 250 percent from the 20 days before the Olympics, according to Hardy. One of the spots BMW introduced for the Olympics -- a 5 series commercial that features a young man picking up a date for a night out -- got so much play on YouTube that the company decided to air it during the Closing Ceremony.
"You can use the social space as, really, a barometer of how people feel about the ads that are out there, and it allowed us to make some adjustments to the media plan," Hardy said.
And the brand is staying committed to the Olympics. BMW will remain a sponsor through at least the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. BMW also sponsors several U.S. Olympians and its dealer network has hosted Olympic-themed marketing events.
Still, Hardy said BMW remains committed to big-ticket events such as the Olympics because they are "TiVo-proof"
"Marquee programs, live sports help you stay in the moment when there are so many choices and so many people that record their shows and skip over those commercials," she said. "We're all guilty of it"
You can reach Joseph Lichterman at email@example.com.