BMW launches U.S. marketing and advertising blitz for 2014 Winter Olympics

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BMW of North America said its U.S. marketing campaign for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games includes advertisements, social and digital media campaigns and a national drive to benefit Team USA.

BMW is the official automotive sponsor of the Sochi Olympics, just as it was at the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games. The luxury automaker was the only import-brand automaker to advertise on NBC telecasts of the London games.

The German automaker, in a statement today, did not divulge its spending plans for the campaign.

As the automotive sponsor of Team USA, only BMW can use the Olympic rings and Olympic athletes in its marketing.

BMW has been leaning on high-profile sporting events for several years, with BMW North America Vice President Dan Creed telling Automotive News last year, "Sports are huge and are TiVo-proof."

BMW worked with the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation for three years, designing and engineering six new two-man bobsleds to help Team USA chase its first Olympic gold medal in the event since 1936.

The work of building the bobsleds is followed in a documentary called "Driving on Ice" which will air this Sunday, Jan. 5, at 12:30 p.m. on NBC. The film follows Team USA bobsledders working with the BMW Group DesignworksUSA.

BMW also will be rolling out a series of U.S. Olympic-themed TV advertisements that follow American athletes and BMW designers as they prepare for the games in the Russian city.

Beginning today, the automaker kicks off its Team USA fund-raising campaign for the third year with advertisements running through Feb. 28, 2014. Each time someone test-drives any BMW model, the company will make a donation to Team USA for a maximum donation of $200,000.

"The Drive for Team USA campaign is a powerful connection point for us with both prospective and current BMW owners," BMW North America Marketing Vice President Trudy Hardy said in a statement. In addition to its television commercials, BMW is launching a digital and social media campaign, which includes advertisements showcasing "Golden Moments" and a contest called "Born to Slide" in which entrants submit photos of themselves sliding -- whether it be on a sled, snowboard or any other vehicle. The winners will be taken to Park City, Utah, where they will be able to ride in a real four-man bobsled.

The ad-blitz has worked for BMW before, notably in 2012 when the automaker saw traffic to its American Web site increase 26 percent over the course of the 2012 London games. BMW USA's Twitter account saw a 300 percent increase in followers during the Olympics.

BMW North America will remain a Team USA sponsor through at least the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

BMW sold 309,280 vehicles in the United States in 2013, a 10 percent gain over 2012, but not enough to beat Mercedes, which finished first in U.S. luxury sales for the first time since 1999. BMW won the title the two previous years.

You can reach Sean Gagnier at sgagnier@crain.com.


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