Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can BMW see the light?

Is it just me, or is the BMW Efficient Dynamics light bulb commercial a disconnect?

Comedian Brian Unger, standing in near total darkness, holds up the spiral-shaped compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) Americans have come to identify with energy conservation. While looking at the CFL, he states, “Americans are always finding ways to be more responsible….” (Oh really? Always?) A soothing digital music bed flicks the switch on a pristine showroom with a thousand points of light – and two beautiful white BMWs - as Unger continues “…and so is BMW.”

The image is so compelling, so striking, that it commands your attention; and just as quickly, you disengage; if you are like me.

I find myself asking, “Why is that room lit up with more bulbs than all the mirrors and runways at a Hollywood awards show? How is that energy efficient? Did the agency use CFLs? I can’t tell. How is BMW being more responsible with respect to the environment?”

These questions might not have been asked if the bulbs were spiral-shaped. I’d still be distracted by the number of bulbs used, but I wouldn’t be questioning BMW’s commitment to energy conservation.

It may seem like a minor detail, especially to BMW, considering the billions they have spent on the awarding-winning Efficient Dynamics technology, but it’s minutiae that can distract an audience and create fissures in an advertiser’s credibility. I’ve seen the commercial several times, but I have yet to hear and comprehend the entire message.

Another distraction is the talent. Who is he and why was he chosen? Through research I learned the man’s name and profession. So why did the advertising agency and BMW select a comedian to deliver a straight message that doesn’t contain even a wisp of humor?

BMW Efficient Dynamics may be far and away the most advanced green technology in the automotive industry, making it a very compelling differentiator, but this commercial fails to shed the proper light on it.