For the launch of BMW's M2 model, the automotive manufacturer had two objectives: reestablish its reputation as the leader in driving performance, and court a new generation of "entry-level" BMW owners: males in their 20s and 30s. The brand teamed up with Gigi Hadid, a Victoria's Secret model with an engaged social following, to create a digital video and 360-degree video experience, called "Eyes on Gigi." The campaign generated buzz on social media as well as in mainstream publications, and introduced a new generation to BMW.
Objective and Context:
BMW's reputation of delivering "thrill-inducing driving performance" was being threatened by its competition, which focused more and more on their own performance claims. The automotive brand leveraged the launch of its new BMW M2 model as a way to reaffirm the brand's commitment to performance driving to a new, "entry-level" generation of enthusiasts. With an extremely limited number of vehicles available for dealers, the campaign would not be about sales, but instead would serve as a halo brand effort to reaffirm BMW's ownership of sheer driving performance and exhilaration.
One of the biggest challenges was how to achieve large-scale awareness globally with limited media budgets that were focused solely on digital and social media. BMW's campaign KPIs were global content views, press and overall social buzz.
While the overall goal was about mass awareness, BMW's creative and media targeting focused on younger male driving enthusiasts, given the entry-level nature of the BMW M2. The target audience was comprised of males in their 20s and 30s, who were digitally and socially savvy by nature, and lovers of automobiles.
BMW needed an idea that could embody four decades of high-performance engineering and show off the M2, pushing the limits of speed and performance, in a way that would resonate with a young male audience. The brand developed the "Eyes on Gigi" campaign, a digital/social-first campaign featuring Victoria's Secret model Gigi Hadid in a new interpretation of the classic game of three-cup shuffle — only the ball was Gigi and the cups were 365-horsepower BMW M2s. The viewer "followed" Gigi as she walked across the screen and into one of three M2s parked at a starting line. The video played out in one continual shot, as five total M2s began to weave around each other, leaving the viewer struggling to follow. As an added challenge, BMW created a 360-degree version of the video, allowing viewers to use their mobile devices to watch the action unfold all around them, as they rotated the camera to try to keep track of Gigi's M2.
BMW chose Gigi Hadid as the star for this digital/social campaign due to her more than 23 million followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. As media launched, Gigi simultaneously promoted the content across her social media channels, garnering additional views and reach from her highly-engaged audience. On the paid media side, BMW focused its efforts on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, leveraging YouTube and Facebook for their 360-degree video capabilities. Mobile media dollars were split between the 45-second video and the 360-degree version, while desktop spending focused solely on the 45-second video experience.
Overall Campaign Execution:
The campaign launched in mid-April of 2016 and ran through May, with the bulk of the media push in the first four weeks. In that short period of time, the Eyes on Gigi campaign outperformed the brand's 2015 social-by-deign Super Bowl content, which previously held the record for BMW of North America's highest-ever recorded online views. What's more, Eyes on Gigi accomplished this feat with a substantially smaller budget.
Mobile was a central component of the strategy, for both the 45-second and 360-degree versions of the video. It enabled the brand to engage its mobile- and social-savvy target audience, and leveraged innovative 360-degree functionality that desktop couldn't provide. Particularly on Facebook, users could interact with the 360 video right within their News Feed, without even having to click. It was an innovative use of new mobile technology in its infancy.
The automotive landscape overall has become ripe with claims of high performance from luxury and feeder brands alike. More and more, competitive vehicles that don’t offer the same driving dynamics as BMW are shown on racetracks, driving a perception that threatens BMW’s brand positioning.
This campaign not only achieved its goals, it surpassed them. In less than six weeks, the campaign was viewed 36 million time across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, with an additional 162 million views garnered via WeChat in China. YouTube named the 360-degree Gigi video “The Most-Viewed 360-degree Video in 2016.” In addition to views, online buzz and purchase intent both increased, with a 40 percent increase in M2 mentions across social media. The campaign also garnered global press coverage among many publications including Fast Company, InStyle and Vogue, as well as popular international publications among BMW’s target audience, like Maxim and GQ.
Eyes on Gigi was an innovative campaign in its use of immersive and interactive video content, which allowed the viewer become part of the commercial itself, natively on each platform. Additionally, it was one of the first big automotive efforts to leverage 360-degree video technology to date. And consumers loved the campaign, with many guessing and debating what car Gigi was in right in the comments sections on Facebook and YouTube.