Naughty Germans: BMW Treats Non-Virgin Cars Like Ladies

November 12, 2010

If you called a woman “pre-owned,” you’d most likely have any or all of the following: a black eye, damaged family jewels, a lawsuit in your hands, and a blog about you with a torrent of nasty comments.

If you called a car pre-owned, a masterstroke of marketing by Mercedes from some time ago, you’d be inclined to give it a second look, maybe even a spin. Maybe even buy it.

However, call a car “used” and people conjure up images of carbon-based life forms with toupees, or mismatching pants and belts and loud ties, or worse, chest hair like a carpet and some kind of golden chain made from 0.5-karat gold with a hefty underlayer of lead. Oh, and possibly cheap cologne.

And used cars, regardless of their pedigree, if sitting on a lot, are like sad, automotive cast-offs. Like a first wife that the owner didn’t care for anymore, no matter how reliable and attractive when it was first purchased. And let’s be honest, even if you buy a used or pre-owned Lexus or Mercedes (Porsche doesn’t count, that brand hovers above those other brands), it’s still someone else’s and you are the second or third owner of a shrewd purchase yet not-new vehicle.

So how does BMW attack this problem of perception? How does the Bavarian marketing machine make their blue and white roundel-adorned cars seem desirable even if they have some miles under the hood? What do they do to stand out from the others?

They call their cars "pre-owned" AND "used." But do it smartly. Like with a brilliant, yet chauvinistic and possibly sexist print ad that reeks of genius. In short, don’t even show the car, just intimate that used ain’t a bad thing, especially where beauty is concerned. Don’t mention a word about performance or inspections or certification. Just use really suggestive imagery. Like the print ad here.
Or, as BMW did, you go the traditional, button-downed, conservative route and make a cute commercial. It’s good but not great, and it takes some head-scratching til you figure it out, but the actor dad is pretty funny.

Frankly, I think the sheer brashness of the print ad, that ancient medium, is way better than the commercial. And it makes me want a used BMW. Then again, I am shallow.


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