BMW of North America has partnered with an urban-format channel on Sirius and XM satellite radio and actor and comedian Jamie Foxx. The move comes a year after BMW's Mini brand faced a controversy over a seemingly discriminatory advertising policy.
As the automotive partner of the FoxxHole Satellite Radio Channel, BMW gets nonscripted, on-air mentions by Foxx and other DJs. BMW experts also will be interviewed during some of Foxx's live broadcasts from an 18-city tour. During some of the shows on the tour, local BMW dealers will provide vehicles for display.
Jack Pitney, BMW vice president of marketing and product strategy, says satellite radio doesn't offer many advertising opportunities because it is virtually commercial-free. This partnership allows BMW to promote its brand on satellite radio with a comedian who appreciates the company's cars, he says.
"What I love about Jamie is he is a BMW enthusiast," Pitney says. "He's owned BMWs."
The agreement with FoxxHole is for one year and may be extended, says BMW spokeswoman Stacy Morris. FoxxHole targets an African-American audience and features music, entertainment and comedy.
Last year, BMW came under fire from civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and members of the African-American community after news reports of a directive that banned Mini advertising on radio outlets targeted to urban audiences -- typically African-American.
Pitney says neither BMW nor Mini ever made such a directive. He says an agency person made the decision, and "that person has since been removed."
BMW would not identify the agency. But an Aug. 17, 2009, article in Target Market News, an online publication for black consumers, said Palisades Media Group, with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, was the media-buying agency involved.
The agreement with FoxxHole is not connected to the incident involving Mini, Pitney says. Matlock, a multicultural agency in Atlanta, negotiated the BMW-FoxxHole deal.
About 4.5 percent of BMW's customers are African-American, 5.5 percent are Hispanic and 10.5 percent are Asian-American, Pitney says.
FoxxHole and Foxx renamed the stand-up comedy portion of the show the "Joy of Comedy Corner," to align it with BMW's global "Joy" campaign. The segment airs on Fridays during Foxx's show and on Mondays during shows hosted by comedian Mark Curry.