Car marketing the German way

23 July 2008 – 11:25 am

We know the Germans make good vehicles.

Quality build, no-nonsense design and premium positioning, are all traded on heavily by the Deutsche marques. Well this is what we thought, but what is happening now ?

BMW has subliminally done somewhat of an about turn over the last few months.

While not a straight media advertising campaign. The company has looked to push its environmental credentials in a number of ways, by introducing BMW ‘Efficient Dynamics’.

Being a PR savvy marque, BMW has realised the best way to promote this shift, is to be multi-channel and somewhat subliminal.

Unlike the washing powders that tell you there is now a better formula, (didn’t they say that last time !), BMW has moved on quietly.

Using a range of media channels, BMW is moving focus from being a driver’s performance car, to being a good environmental choice.

In Spain, the previous BMW tagline developed by a Barcelona agency, was ‘you like to drive ?’.

Basic and primitive, but conveying the driving experience, no more, no less. A very male oriented message. Quite different to this new-found ‘greeness’.

Is BMW going the right way, or, is it jumping on the environmental bandwagon ? As the owner of a BMW 3 Series manufactured in 1981, I think the marque has always been fairly environmental. With such a high build quality, the 27 year old car is perfect for running to the shops and beach.

Porsche is currently running a simple, thought through press campaign in the UK. Never one of the ‘mega-advertisers’, Porsche is highly coveted by agencies for its prestige.

Few brands could show a product from 1963 and be happy with people relating it to the 2008 model.

The latest Tatler magazine features a one page advert with an image of a 1963 Porsche. The weekend press ran an advert with a line up of Porsche models from the 1960s to present day.

Credit to the designers and advertisers for developing a good product and sticking to the brand ethos. Some may say the Porsche advertising is too simple, but I think in this case it works.

The final campaign is not German, I don’t think the car is built in Germany, and am not sure how many models will actually sell in the country.

But, the Citroen C5 advertising campaign plays massively on stereotypical German associations.

Teutonic man, snow and well built quality. The campaign is a bit weird, although a little less so, now it appears to be for the UK region only. It is actually quite funny.

As a non-German, or, French, I can see the lighter side, and this is what European integration should be about, burying the past and moving on. But is this latest from Citroen, just too frivolous ? Even for a UK audience.

You decide and take the ‘Unmistakeably German’ test here !

You can see some examples of the different Western European C5 idents below.




  1. 2 Responses to “Car marketing the German way”

  2. Good comments Xav.

    I have to agree that as the owner of an actual 1963 Porsche, the outside shape is still pretty much the same as Porsche cars sold today – something that Porsche have always promoted with the 911 shape and forwards.

    Aston Martin have built a whole heritage website, and with Fiat (re)launching the classic 500 [obviously spurred on after the Mini did so well] there’s a lot of brand value in the past and looking to it for advertising makes sense.

    The C5 campaign just doesn’t work for me – the idea that they want to be recognised for having German build quality is admirable, but just doesn’t hook me in any way that would convince me to want to part with my money.

    I think we’re going to see every major car brand changing to ecological based advertising in upcoming months.

    As the death of the SUV in America has started to show, petrol prices are high and in times of turmoil people want to feel they are doing everything positive they can.

    I think the smaller hybrid cars will be the most competitive space.

    By Alex on Jul 29, 2008

  3. @Alex, you make some great points here. Even in Western Europe, there are some big differences between car culture. For example, the UK and Germany are (or were) very much motorhead countries, whereas Spain has always been slightly more utilitarian. Partly due to the way vehicles are taxed, rugged roads, finances and historically, the less commuter oriented culture.

    By Xavier on Jul 31, 2008

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