BMW used “the Internet” to sneak in URL for Super Bowl ad

I was truly fascinated that a car company adopted a 21-year old news clip to promote its brand during the Super Bowl. This while other car companies did the same-old, same old car shots.

I am talking about the BMW I-3 commercial, featuring Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel. This one:

Piecing together conversations from the behind-the-scenes interviews on the set, and looking at the two videos (the flash-back shot in the commercial, and the unedited video clip from 1994) it is interesting to see what clever editing was involved. Green-screens, and inserts.

Gumbel and Couric sound genuinely lame, as most of us were about this thing called the Internet in 2004. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) most of us don’t have archive footage of our conversations, when we first encountered the weird string of colon and slashes that were called ‘addresses.’

Around 2007, I recall a very prominent thought leader in marketing and communications similarly question the purpose of Twitter, and its @ sign, of course.

But back to the BMW ad, you may have noticed an email address that slashed briefly on the cutaway shot, as if Gumbel is reading it. (They sliced in his voice to read the address, as if he did it in 1994. BUT, the actual address he read was (You could see the clip here.) Also quaintly, the ‘at sign’ in this clip is a circle around the a, not a continuous line connecting the a.

The neat trick is that the email address domain is a promotional website for curious folk who thought they’d check it out – and I did, because I suspected the ad agency was not going to let that one pass.

Check it out for yourself! There’s probably a one-in-a-million chance of winning the car, but hey!

Just saying “No” – two ways to advertise

shellad_tn2.jpgHave you noticed how the word “No” has gained currency in advertising?

This ad from Shell has been running in some magazines and tells of how the world is full of nay-sayers and those who put down ideas as impractica.l “What does it take to turn no into yes?” it asks. “Curiosity. An open mind. A willingness to take risks.” Somewhat buried in the copy is a link to Shell’s microsite.

But close upon the heels of celebrating “No” is another great execution by BMW, featuring an ad and an insert in WIRED. This time it takes the opposite side, celebrating the word No. “No closes doors… but when used to break convention, it opens more,” the copy reads. As in: “No, we will not compromise ideas. No, we will not do it the way everyone else does it …the ability to say No for all the right reasons.”

To Shell’s credit, it’s not all ad copy. In a report last year, president John Hofmeister blames the oil and gas industry for the “public policy deficit” with regards to energy. “I do not blame the elected officials. I do not blame the American people. I blame the industry for not having spoken of this issue…” he says. At the site, they talk about the energy crisis as a “crisis of inertia.”

Say what you will about Shell, but at least its marketing is in sync with its president.