Before we go any further you have to understand where exactly it is that I’m coming from. My pop cultural touchstones are all planted deep in the eighties. Sure, I’ve glommed onto other things pre and post (hello pet rocks, Mambo #5 & planking) but my all-consuming formative years revolved around eighties excess. I was there (and mostly paying attention) when big, huge, clawing-at-you hair on girls was desired. I actually wore rolled up sleeves on my suit jacket and bought a sports coat with this horrific style choice in mind. And most embarrassing of all I confess that the only tie I ever truly learned to tie on my own was a skinny leather one. But it just wasn’t just awesome stuff like this that imprinted. The eighties were also the absolute pinnacle of yuppie jerkdom, which to my mind still overpowers anything relating to all this 1%-99% nonsense being peddled. To that, for me, the ultimate evil was - and I guess still is - owning a BMW.
Yes, nice folks own bimmers too (and that is what they’re called – bimmers - not “beamers” or “beemers.” Really, I checked) but these cars have always had a sort of scarlet letter attached to them. Owning one would mean that I had finally become that most hated of eighties film villains, the rich, self-centered yuppie-dink that always made life miserable for the hero. I would be a real-life William Zabka character (seriously, look him up and you’ll totally get it).
How unfair is it that an entire brand can remain so tarred and feathered in my psyche due to nothing more than the remnants of some Hollywood pop cultural dross still clinging to the walls of my brain? Can anything shake it loose? It’s no wonder car companies spend so much on ads. What choice have they got?
So I have to give a high five to BMW for their latest attempt to win me over. They are running a new commercial for their 560 horsepower M5 sedan that is one of the most visually fun commercials I’ve come across in ages. Literally, it just drags you along as you sit slightly giddy and excited as to what will happen next.
The spot opens black, in a tunnel as headlights come on and an engine starts to rev. Compelling, no? The walls are so rounded and tight that you have to watch just to see what’s up. Then we’re off. The wheels are screeching and spinning and smoke is pouring out and we are following this bright blue BMW towards daylight.
The car explodes out of the pipe, and as the camera pulls back we see it (the pipe) laying rifle-like against the stark, white background of the salt flats as the blue bullet BMW shoots out. Coooool. And so it drives, and goes faster. But where? What’s next? We see....something....in the distance. It gets closer, closer. It’s a huge, red glass apple and the BMW is headed right for it. Impact is immediately switched to slow motion as the music turns piano gentle and we revel in the twisted beauty of a million red glass shards enveloping this sea blue automobile.
But before that image can fully die out we get engine roar – and more torque – as we speed off anew, looking for more. Oooooo, what’s next? What’s next?
A contraption. A weird, strange scaffold holding.......what? Then we see. Three balloons, red, white and blue – all containing water and all hanging from the platform just far enough for the zooming car to pass underneath without touching them, except for the sharp fin of the decoratively stylish radio antennae, which slices each balloon open. The water hangs there as we switch again to slow-mo, and creates an image so loving and attractive that I could stare at a poster of this for an hour. It’s so.......lovely.
But we’re not done yet. The last target awaits. As the car approaches we see it’s a bullseye, or a traditional shooting target done car-large. It hits the mark perfectly and continues unstopped, looking for more as we pull back and marvel at the stark prettiness of the entire escapade.
What does it mean? Who cares? It’s auto-performance art and it left me smiling without realizing it. I just watched it – all 2 minutes – in silence. And then I watched it again. You have to look yourself. It really is a pleasant way to waste some time.
Is it enough to turn my eighties-struck, pre-conceived attitudes surrounding bimmers and their owners a full 180? Maybe not, but ads like this go a long way towards dulling the images of feather-haired jocks kicking the crap out of skinny little dweebs. Wax on, wax off Daniel-san.