BMW Graffiti Contest By Megan Essman and Marlinda Kelly

BMW Graffiti Campaign


Early History: 

In 1913, a company named Bayeriche Motoren Werk (BMW) was established in Germany, who would build military aircrafts and aircraft engines. With the passage of time, the BMW group began to produce automobiles, motorcycles, etc. The company has achieved a strong market presence in over a hundred countries, like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China, India, and Korea. BMW has positioned itself in the premium segments with three other world famous brands like the Mini Cooper, and Rolls-Royce. (3)


BMW uses a solid Five P’s marketing mix, accepting many challenges through strategic goals such as, Situational analysis, Competitor analysis, also incorporating Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats, (SWOT), as well as a Political, Economical, Social, Technological, and Legal analysis, (PESTL). These analyses are presented to identify the factors that determine where the company stands out in the auto- making industry (9). Moreover, the market segmentation of the company has been discussed briefly as what kind of strategy BMW has adopted to be profitable and remain the best of all.

The automobile business has fierce competition to be successful. It is a service business that is based on performance, as well as customer satisfaction. Running a successful marketing campaign can be very challenging, especially when promoting one of the most successful multi-brand premium automobiles in the world, BMW. The company has many slogans such as “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” and “Sheer Driving Pleasure,” promoting a range of high-end sports cars, SUV’s, and motorcycles. BMW’s mission statement is clearly defined as “to be the most successful premium manufacturer in the industry” (8).

Overview of The Situation:

In 2008, BMW produced a product that was inspired by Generation X’s consumer perspective, a generation known for their savvy marketing, their demand for authenticity, and their inherent cynicism. They were a generation who grew up with knowledge of BMW, and had high expectations from the brand and the performance it delivered.

The 1 Series Campaign was the use of a popular application combined with a high reach site take-over on Facebook. Facebook proved an ideal platform to engage the audience, and allow users to interact with the 1 Series just as it was arriving on showroom floors. BMW teamed up with one of Facebook’s most popular applications, Graffiti. Graffiti was one of the top five Facebook applications, and boasts over 200,000 daily active users who use it to draw on a friend’s “wall,” where it showed up on their profile for everyone in their network to see.

Unknown copy

For the 1 Series, BMW created the ultimate “Build Your Own” functionality within the Graffiti application. Under the contest name of “What Drives You?” users were provided with a professionally drawn outline of a 1 Series, which acted as their blank canvas allowing users to express themselves (through color and background), while experiencing the design and beauty of the new 1 Series. Once completed, the unique BMW expressions are shared by posting to their wall for their friends to see. The contest winners received a BMW Art Car model.

A branded site was created to house the submissions, and solicit votes for the best work. Additionally, a panel of popular bloggers were fed information about the graffiti campaign and the launch of the 1 Series, creating further buzz. BMW drove Facebook users to the graffiti application with two site takeovers, owning all ad units and impressions for an entire day. As a bonus, due to the viral nature of this application, users engaged with BMW 1 Series Graffiti and submitted their entries before it was supported with advertising, with thousands of submissions in the first week. BMW was the first advertiser to be integrated into the Graffiti application, as well as the first auto advertiser to do a Facebook site take-over. (8) The BMW campaign had over 9,000 entries. According to Dave Morin, Senior Platform Manager of Facebook stated, “BMW is running a campaign on Facebook which could be one of the most brilliant social media campaigns I’ve seen in a long time.” This was considered a major success. He goes on to judge, “The Best and Worst of Social Network Marketing,” doing research of social network campaigns by 16 major firms, and pronounced the BMW Graffiti campaign the winner. The BMW Graffiti campaign was also featured in the New York Times, and won both the 2009 Silver Effie Award, and the Silver MIXX Social Marketing award (7).

Agency Used:

BMW has used the same advertising company, WCRS since 1979. They incorporate a broad range of advertising, focusing on branding campaigns (8).

How BMW Incorporated Social Media:

BMW uses social media as a tool to target a wide range of people. The social media platform that BMW partnered up with was Facebook. Today, Facebook is still the most used platform for BMW, with 18,955,517 page likes, as well as postings of BMW stories from consumers (7). The contest used the Facebook app “RSS Graffiti” to create their designs on the car. Facebook is the most popular social network site in the United States right now, which gives BMW the opportunity to have their campaign reach millions of people. (1) One great thing about Facebook is that information can spread fast through content sharing, friend-to-friend sharing, word of mouth, and node-to-node sharing. However, Facebook was not the only social site they also used; Boing Boing TV; which invites in audiences outside of social media. The campaign was receiving a lot of buzz across other websites like, Top Speed Auto Site, Auto Blog, Han D Work Blog, Google Blog and Twitter posts. (3)

Some of The Entries:

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screen-shot-2015-09-30-at-3-57-26-pm screen-shot-2015-09-30-at-3-57-37-pm

What We Would Have Submitted: 





Besides only using the Graffiti app on Facebook, BMW also created banner ads that people could see while they were browsing. Here are a couple of examples:

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 3.17.16 PM

This was a smart idea because BMW included other applications that users were playing at the time of the campaign. In 2008, BMW invested about $25 million for online media, advertising, and even made a “micro site that is devoted to the 1-Series “(,” (4) BMW chose to stick with a simple and fun idea because social media users can control the “brand experience.” Users can let brands know how they feel in a positive or negative way. Allowing people to interact with BMW, or any other brand, will draw people in and potentially gain new customers.


Taking a look at the overall marketing mix of BMW, they first expand on the five P’s. Product is considered the most important element out of the five P’s because; it provides the useful requirements by customers. The Price ranges between $32,850 to over $100,000 here in the USA for BMW models. There are many factors that can effect the prices such as engine sizes, motor sport versions etc. The Placement, BMW use superior market dealerships and imports for non-dealer networked countries. Worldwide, they have approximately 4,000 dealerships in more than 100 countries (8). The Promotion has always focused entirely on their cars using the same advertising company WCRS since 1979 (8). The Participation with their consumers on social media, promotes good customer service, responses, blogs, updating their website, posting YouTube videos, retweeting consumer content, as well as keeping and maintaining their Facebook page.

SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunity, Threat):Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 11.59.04 PM

The BMW Graffiti Campaign did well overall, but could have always made some improvements to make it even more successful. BMW could have re-evaluated their marketing strategy by using the SWOT method (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) half way through their campaign to gain higher numbers in entries. However, some strength’s that they projected were receiving over nine thousand entries, consumer involvement, promoting new series, creating a slogan, and using social media. Having nine thousand plus entries does not seem like it is that much, especially when you are spending millions of dollars on a campaign; this is where re-evaluation should come into play. Getting consumer involvement makes people feel like they matter, and that the brand needs them. The promotion also created buzz about the new 1-Series over Facebook, and eventually across the web. Another strength that worked out for BMW was the slogan, “what drives you?”. Not only is the title appropriate because the campaign has to do with cars, but it also has another meaning to it, the personalization of the contestant car design. Back in 2008, there really was not that many ads on social media like they are today, so BMW using Facebook as a campaigning tool was a very smart move on their part. However, there are always elements that could have been improved.

There were some weak parts in BMW’s Graffiti campaign, such as, only using Facebook for a social media platform, no use of hashtags, not using search-engine marketing, and people not buying cars. Like stated before, yes, BMW was brilliant for thinking about using one of the most popular social media networks (Facebook), however, using another platform such as Twitter would have made for an even larger number of entries. Another thing that would have been great for BMW to do is, use the slogan “What Drives You?” as a hashtag on Twitter. Using hashtags makes it easy to track and also allows people to share, retweet, and create content with the hashtag. Not only is social media marketing new to the business world, but search-engine marketing is as well. SEM (Search-Engine Marketing) is a new way of marketing on the Internet to help promote websites by ranking the sites higher on search-engine result pages. One last weakness is, in 2008 people were struggling with money during the recession, so not many people were intending to buy a new car, which is a major loss for car companies like BMW.

BMW already has a certain target audience that they market to, but the campaign has brought plenty of other opportunities to their door by doing something more creative and different than they are use to. BMW definitely has its fair share of loyal customers, but the campaign offers a chance to gain new customers too. Being involved in a promotional event gives people the chance to explore, as well as, check the brand out by, visiting their website and social media pages. For people who love BMW cars, this promotion will also amp up some excitement for the new 1-Series to come out. It may also peak the interest of others just enough to have people go to their local BMW dealership and go test drive one or even another car that catches the consumers eye. The contest alone gives people the opportunity to show off their creative side with designing the car and expressing through the car “what drives them”.

In any business, there are always worry about threats like  competition, pricing, and stealing the slogan. Luxury Japanese cars such as Lexus, Infinity, and Acura are competitors to BMW; however, BMW’s main competitors are other luxury German cars Audi, Volvo, and Mercedes. The luxury car market is strong with loyal customers; however, the high-end cars may be turned down by consumers with lower prices from other car companies. Consumers who are on a strict budget will more likely go with a less expensive car that is just as sleek looking as a BMW. During the researching processes, a threat that was found is the reuse of the slogan “What Drives You?” by other car companies. If you were to search for the slogan on Twitter, Chrysler pops up with their campaign; not patenting or licensing during the BMW campaign can cause this problem for people to snag its slogan.

PESTEL (Political, Economical, Social, Technological, Ecological, and Legal):

Analysis goes over the impacting factors that organizations like BMW have to think about when producing and distributing products. Politics play a vital role with the enforcement of “new laws related to CO2 emission and change in EU legislation related to end-of-life vehicle (ELV) recycling are major political factors that affect BMW manufacturing processes.” (6) The government will not allow cars to be sold if they do not pass the emissions test. Other factors that may impact BMW are working with other foreign countries because there is always a risk that could have a negative hit on political instability. A major Economic factor that affects BMW directly is the gross domestic product fluctuation of consumer spending in Europe. “Additional economic factors that affect BMW revenues include, volatility of GBP: EURO exchange rates, and volatility of price for crude oil.”(6)

Socially, BMW keeps an eye on their consumer audience by researching demographics as well as what is happening in the car industry. Consumers spending patterns may change at any moment whether they change their values because of sticking to a budget or finding a better car for fuel efficiency and so forth. The car industry as a whole is moving towards more technological advancements with cars parking themselves, producing electric cars, push-to-start button, being able to have Wi-Fi in the car, and so on.

From a legal standpoint, BMW has to follow many regulations of rules from the government locally, regionally, and internationally. There are ecological factors that BMW has to take in consideration from a consumer standpoint. Many consumers are being more conscious about buying anything that is going to help the environment. Also, BMW is more aware of how they practice waste management and other ways they can protect the environment.

Below is the PESTEL chart that BMW uses:

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 8.40.34 PM

Success & Failures: Then and Now (2008-2015)

Marketing Campaigns Since The Graffiti Contest:

Since the Graffiti contest in 2008, car designs have changed a lot in the way that they look and with people being more cautious about going green. BMW did a campaign earlier this year for their new i8 Hybrid vehicle. They used the hashtag “#iamtheFuture” on Twitter to get the announcement out that BMW is going to start selling the i8 in India. BMW set their goal as a company to expand their market to the continent of Asia, targeting China and India. Another goal that BMW has set for them and succeeded in is producing hybrid/electric models. Today, marketers know more on how to incorporate different social media platforms in their campaigns besides Facebook.


How BMW Is Still Using Social Networks:

YouTube has been another successful tool to use because users can watch car reviews about a particular car model that they are interested in. Watching YouTube videos allows the viewer to get a feel for what the cars exterior and interior looks like. BMW’s Twitter does a great job at posting pictures that pop and make people think, “that’s a good looking car”. Another thing that BMW posts is past models, such as late 90’s and early 2000’s in exotic, a beautiful scene.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.13.38 PM

Series 1 Comes to the US & Other Promotions:

In the month of March 2008, BMW’s Series-1 model was a major hit in the United States within the first month. Also, within the first two weeks of the car being out on the lots, BMW sold 1,496. (2) Other successful campaigns that BMW has was “The Hire,” promoting a series of short movies featuring Hollywood celebrities; they were produced by well known Hollywood directors, and the main theme of the films were to show off BMW cars. BMW found out that 85% of BMW purchasers used Internet before purchasing. These short films helped put BMW’s vehicles out in the public eye, allowing consumers to view online. Although, most of advertising campaigns are generally used to promote a new car, this campaign’s main motive was pure market branding. The car industry is always evolving with the looks of the cars and technological advancements; to stay on top of business, staying alert of what their competitors are doing is a must. Staying on top means, to keep coming up with creative ideas to draw consumers in and convincing them that their company (BMW) is a better choice than Audi or Volvo. Even though BMW’s Graffiti Campaign was deemed unsuccessful, BMW comes up with new creative ways to get their name out to consumers through their different styles of campaigning.

A review of the 2008 1-Series:

URL To Our WordPress Site:


  1. Bennett Shea “The 13 Most Popular Social Networks (By Age Group).” SocialTimes. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
  2. Boeriu, Horatiu. “BMW 1 Series Sales for March 2008.” BMW BLOG RSS. 5 Apr. 2008. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
  3. “ChasNote.” ChasNote RSS. 4 Apr. 2008. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
  4. Elliott, Stuart. “BMW Turns to the Web for Its 1-Series.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 6 Apr. 2008. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
  5. “Facebook Logo.” BMW. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
  6. Dudovskiy, John. “BMW PESTEL Analysis – Research Methodology.” Research Methodology. 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
  7. Kantor, Mark. “What Do 52,795 Jelly Beans and 9,044 BMWs Have in Common?” PRWeb. 2 Apr. 2010. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
  8. Kiew, Roland. “BMW Marketing.” BMW Marketing. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.

9. The BMW Official Website. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.

BMW Graffiti Contest By Megan Essman and Marlinda Kelly

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