In the spring of 2008, BMW of North America introduced the 1 Series, a popular European model, to US markets. The company wanted to maintain their tradition of innovative advertainment campaigns [See Relearn to Drive | BMW Films] that blend the best of film and interactive.
Introduce the 1 Series to the US market. Target a new demographic for BMW: young 20-something, tech-savvy trendsetters.
At GSD&M Idea City, we created an extensive online campaign to build buzz and generate sales leads for the 1 Series launch. The centerpiece of this campaign was a fictitious 35-minute mocumentary called The Ramp released exclusively online. Shot in Bavaria, the film by “Jeff Schultz” told the story of the tiny village of Oberpfaffelbachen that built a gigantic ramp to literally launch a 1 Series from Bavaria to America.
Beyond the humorous film — and to appeal to this younger demographic — we invited our audience to become a part of the campaign.
We first created a blog for our fictitious documentary filmmaker, Jeff Schultz. For three months, Jeff posted updates on the progress of the documentary, linked ramp pictures from his Flickr account and leaked teaser clips on popular video-sharing sites YouTube and Vimeo. We identified key blogs, forums and social communities and actively engaged them to generate early buzz.
We then created profiles on social networks like Facebook and Uber so Jeff could make friends and build interest for his documentary within social communities. We tagged teaser videos with Rampenfest.com where visitors could watch the movie trailer Jeff created and eventually the full feature documentary upon release.
Meanwhile, we produced an online presence for the town and citizens of Oberpfaffelbachen. The sites were purposely given a nostalgic feel as if they had been built by a local webmaster circa 1995. We created a microsite, a fake tourism commercial for the town that would run on YouTube, social network profiles and microsites for some of the characters and businesses in the film.
Audiences bombarded the tiny village and its citizens. They emailed “Visit Oberpfaffelbachen” postcards to friends and submitted their pictures for the Miss Rampenfest beauty pageant. The bakery in the documentary posted their famous Rampen pretzel recipe on Bakespace.com. Evi Gruber, one of the more popular characters from the film, created a CafePress store so fans could purchase Ramp merchandise and help her recoup her financial losses from the failed Rampenfest. We received real orders for real merchandise.
Within six months, the campaign received nearly 10 million impressions at less than 3¢ CPM without a traditional media buy. Interest for the BMW launch soared and the 1 Series nearly sold out before the official launch date.
Out of hundreds of award entries, the campaign landed on the 2008 Cannes Lions Short List in the Cyber category. CNN and the Wall Street Journal featured the campaign and it has been covered by over 200 blogs and viewed in 114 countries, including Peter Kim’s List of Social Media Examples. Jeff Schultz and Franz Brendl have been interviewed by media throughout the world.
Rampenfest: Interactive Credits
Creative Agency: GSD&M Idea City
Broadcast Production & Editing: The Vikings
Social Media & Buzz Marketing: Undercurrent
Web Site Development: EatSkeet.com