BMW India meets creative agencies

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | January 27, 2014
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Team BMW has already conducted a preliminary 'chemistry round'. The process is underway in Delhi....

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Germany-headquartered auto major BMW India has initiated a creative pitch. The process began a few weeks back after the company issued an RFI that several creative agencies, large and mid-sized, reacted to. Around five to six agencies were then selected for what team BMW India calls a 'chemistry round', in which basics such as credentials and category knowledge, as well as intangible aspects such as comfort level at the interpersonal level, were evaluated.

Even so, the process is still in its nascent stages. No briefs have been given out as yet and presentations are most likely to be held post this year's Auto Expo, scheduled to take place next month. Mostly, the shortlisted agencies will be briefed towards the end of February and presentations are likely to be held sometime in March. Highly placed industry sources have confirmed the development to afaqs!. 

The process is underway in Delhi; the brand's overseas team will be involved in the evaluation process. While details regarding the exact purpose of the pitch were unavailable at the time of filing this report, sources say the brand team is looking for a creative agency with "strong, integrated capability", something most communications firms claim to have in abundance. Whether the pitch is for a specific variant (for instance, the recently launched compact luxury offering, the 1-Series), the entire product portfolio or the corporate brand, is also not known at this point.
In the recent past, the Delhi-based creative agency Liquid Campaign India has worked on BMW's communication for this market. The Germany-headquartered agency was launched in India around 2011. The agency has since worked exclusively on the BMW account and has handled the launch of several brands from the BMW stable, including BMW 6 Series Convertible, BMW X3, BMW 3 Series and, of course, the iconic Mini (a brand BMW acquired in 2006-07 and launched in India in 2012).

While most of the brand's communication for the Indian market has been adapted from overseas, the launch campaign for the BMW 3 Series ('Superior by Evolution', 2012) was especially crafted by Liquid Campaign India, for Indian audiences, keeping local sensibilities in mind.

On October 1, 2013, Liquid Campaign India officially became Serviceplan India, as the parent company of the latter, also a Germany-based agency, upped its stake in that of the former.

Previously, BMW India has also worked with the Bangkok-based communications agency U5OK (U5 Opportunity Knocks) for its creative work. U5OK has roots in Germany's advertising capital, Düsseldorf, and works on several top German brands across international markets including India.

Around August 2012, BMW India retained Aegis' Carat as its media AoR, after evaluating other options; several leading media agencies including ZenithOptimedia, Maxus and BPN participated in the Delhi-based pitch.

Currently, the luxury car market in India is pegged at about 30,000-35,000 luxury cars per year. Competition among the three leading German players, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, is all set to get even more fierce in the days ahead, as all three have identified an addressable market in today's 30-something car buyer. In a related trend, the three brands also seem to have their eyes set on the under-25 lakh zone: Around mid-2013 Mercedes-Benz launched the A-Class, its affordable compact luxury car, in India; around September 2013 BMW launched the 1-Series, its affordable luxury hatchback; and Audi's soon-to-be-launched affordable sedan, the A3, is a product auto enthusiasts are eagerly waiting for.
According to a report published earlier this month in a leading Indian finance daily, BMW's local sales have seen a 22 per cent drop over the past year, during which time Audi famously sold over 10,000 units - a fact the brand has propagated in its recent print commercials. As far as the luxury car race in India goes, the report puts BMW at the No.3 spot, after Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

It appears as though BMW's current creative review is a step towards fixing the past and re-establishing itself in the Indian luxury car market. It remains to be seen how its new creative partner will position brand BMW in the minds of Indian consumers and consequently help the company climb the ranks once again in 2014.
BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, German for Bavarian Motor Works. In addition to the Mini, BMW is also the parent company of Rolls-Royce.
Established in 2006 and headquartered in the NCR region, BMW India is a 100 per cent subsidiary of the BMW Group.

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