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BMW creates strong concept integration with their new 300 horsepower paintbrush

BWM has just release what I think is the most interesting and aggressive integrated advertising campaign I have seen in a long time. In the interest of full disclosure I will sat that it was created by two of my old creative partners in crime who also left for greener pastures at GSD&M in Austin. The campaigned started with and is centered around their latest TV commercial for the BMW Z4 where artist Robin Rhode uses the roadster as a 306hp paintbrush to create a huge work of art.

Augmented Reality
They then took that TV commercial and turned it into another impressive example of augmented reality. As with other examples of the technology, you print out a marker, show it to your webcam and then you can make your own “Expression of Joy” painting. This augmented reality execution has a few more bells and whistles than what I have seen before as you can first use it to check out the car by twisting and turning the marker to get the whole picture. When you are done with that you can put it down on your desktop, size the car so it fits your desktop and then take control of the car to create your own work of art. Once you are happy with the result you can save it to YouTube or Facebook. There is one increibly big drawback here which is that the only way to make it work is to download a 20MB software install that only works on PC’s. I don’t know if there is a Mac version in the works but the logic in this decision eludes me as every other version of this technology I have seen works on both platforms.

iPhone Application
The final part of the interactive extension of the TV commercial came with the launch of the Z4 iPhone application which is the more robust offering of the two. The application is broken into a game, photo gallery and a section where you can read about the making of the commercial The game allows you to customize your Z4 before you enter the game by choosing the type of roof, color and rims. Once you had pimped your ride to you liking you can take it for a spin in an experience similar to the one in the one in augmented reality but with the steering being done using the iPhone’s accelerometer. When you are finished if you have created something you really like you can save it to the Camera Roll in the iPhone’s photo albums to be viewed or sent around later. I was surprised to see that the save photos had no BMW or Z4 branding on them which I understand from a pure artist sense but it felt like a missed branding opportunity.

So while the limiting technical requirements of the augmented reality execution are very disappointing, when you look at the campaign as a whole it is an impressive display of how one idea can be brought to life through multiple channels and multiple interactive incarnations with each one staying strong enough to stand on it’s own. It is this type of integrated concepting that I wish I would see a lot more and continue to wt for more agencies to wake up and start actually working this way. I continue to deeply believe that there remains vast amounts of untapped potential that could be realized by more of this type of thinking where you start with a strong media agnostic concept and then work it out from there into the various channels so each one of them can take advantage of their respective medium.


  1. tristan

    April 21, 2009 at 5:06 am


    Dare digital in the uk created the Augmented Reality and rich media campaign. The current version is a beta, there is a new pc version with more features coming next week and a mac version. There will then be a final version for pc and mac out in a few weeks that will have a smaller download size, lots of extra features like customising the car, roof animates up and down and video capture. Hope that helps.

  2. Pingback: Toyota creates a four wheeled computer mouse | Stephen Gates Blog: Interactive Creative Director - Digital + Online Design, Advertising, Marketing and Branding Blog

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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