It’s almost time for BMW’s annual UK spoof advertisement celebrating April Fool’s Day, a date Britons reserve for playing tricks on each other.
The spoof ad on April 1 has taken on a life of its own during the 25 years that UK advertising agency WCRS has promoted BMW. Each year WCRS has come up with a convincing message presented in typical BMW style, supported by elaborate diagrams and lab-coated engineers.
One portrayed a futuristic BMW in which the controls could be swapped for either left- or right-hand drive. Another ad offered drivers remote control of home appliances, including an on-board display of a chicken in the oven.
But the agency caused a real panic at BMW years ago with a joke ad a little too close to truth, says WCRS founding partner Robin Wight.
A decade before they reached the market, WCRS copywriters pretended that BMW had tire-pressure monitors. The theory and technical details were quite close to actual research. When the ad first appeared, flustered BMW engineers and product planners in Munich rushed to find the person who had blabbed.
“It took some while to convince everyone that the tire-pressure sensors were purely our own invention,” says Wight. “BMW is a very confident brand, so we can afford to have jokes in our ads.”