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BMW's i-Car Revolution... in Messaging

Carol Pierson Holding considers the marketing and messaging behind BMW's new i-Series electric cars.

Published: 30-Mar-2011

BMW. a leader in CSR among automakers, has upped the marketing ante for hybrid/electric cars by associating its new electric car with internet connectivity (or is that innovation?), thanks to it’s name, the BMWi.

“i”? Sure, thanks to Apple’s ubiquitous advertising campaigns, “i” is as well known as an indicator for many things: internet, innovation, imagination (the company has been mum on what it really stands for)

In any case, you have to wonder why BMW chose this consumer shorthand most often associated with Apple over one that might signal environmentalism. Why not “e” for “electric car?” Could BMW be doing what so many have failed to do—move the overall positioning of energy efficiency towards something sexier and more appealing? At least when it comes to cars? Green appeal comes and goes. For many efforts, green positioning has given way to saving money — remember Energy Star’s transition in the 1990s? And more recently, the Prius’ push beyond celebrity environmentalists to mass market, cost-conscious consumers? But saving gas only goes so far, especially when gas is cheap.

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