I recently read the highlights of your RFP as per your confidential memo to a handful of agencies, thanks to our friends at Adweek, and I must say it was priceless. Almost as funny as Wedding Crashers actually.
Your brief is interesting to me as it contains a truly rich dichotomy of the verbiage which I think both extol what is wrong with the business today...and at the same time, what needs to happen in order to rescue and resuscitate it. So my question is...which one will it be? Will the real BMW please stand up. I'm eager to know whether - behind the Select Resources International facade (in other words, did the write the brief or did you) - there is a client truly committed to change and new marketing...or just one intent on lip service.
South Africa (my home country) has had a love affair with your brand for the longest time and not coincidentally, I recall some of the most creative, landmark advertising for BMW which I believe dialled into the very challenge you've cited in your brief i.e. creativity (which) has not kept pace with engineering, hence the perceptual parity which you refer to, but I digress...
Let me walk through some of the nuggets from this brief and offer some commentary:
- you mention that your advertising is "adrift" and "fading into a sea of sameness"; you're asking agencies to "move beyond the winding roads" and "product as hero"; you're looking to break away from being "dependent on the mass media conventions of the past" - that all sounds well and good, but are you really capable of moving beyond this at the end of the day...and truth be told, is an agency going to be able to help you do this? (more on this later)
- You've correctly (take an extra point) retained, "the ultimate driving machine" as your tagline. It's familiar and quite frankly should never change...not in this cluttered market, where your iconic logo and tagline are arguably the foundation behind the consistency you talk about with respect to affording you the ability to spend less (P.S. Spending less is no more the solution than is spending more; you should be thinking about spending smarter)
- OK...so now you start getting either dellusional, greedy, unrealistic or all 3. You want an "agency" to reach a "broader, more diverse audience" on roughly half of last year's budget; you're looking for a shop that can create integrated marketing aimed at a niche audience; you feel the need to turn $1 into $5 and state that "if you don't have a track record of creating stuff like this, this is probably the wrong opportunity for your agency" - come on, why stop there: if it were me running this pitch, I'd demand that the "shop" come up with a 3-step program to cure both cancer and AIDS, and while we're at it, let's throw in ending poverty in Africa, which seems to be all the rage right now. Aim high my friends, aim high
- P.S. Are you talking to Fallon? Oh that's right, you fired them.
- "Car experience is not necessary" you remind those chomping at the bit to impress you. Again, take an extra point for realizing one of the glaring disconnects in the agency business....going with agencies based on what they've done in the past, as opposed to what they can do in the future; choosing agencies based on the fact they've worked with your competitors...which begs the question, "if they were so damn good, why did they get fired in the first place?"
Look. To be honest, I admire some of the steps you're taking, but I'm just not sure an agency is going to be able to help you solve the kind of problems, and meet the kinds of challenges you're looking to address. What you need are ideas...what you need is to be able to connect with your consumers, or rather let them connect with you. There's nothing wrong with your product or brand quite frankly, there's just something wrong with the way you're communicating.
Here are my suggestions:
- Download Chapter 10 of my book which talks about re:thinking the agency. Actually, while we're at it, send me an e-mail and I'll send you a free copy of my new book. I already sent Jim a copy, but he's in Miniland - in a much happier place.
- Here's a 5 step guide to think about as you go through your agency selection process:
- Reject the status quo - are you really ready to walk away from the winding roads?
- Embrace change - again, if you want to be able to turn water into wine; straw into gold; $1 into $5...you're going to have to do things differently. Period. That requires different methodologies and ultimately, different partners.
- Accept a higher level of accountability - following on from the previous point, you had better figure out how to measure the weaving of $1 into $5 and when you do...make sure you reward those who helped you spin
- Challenge yourselves and your partners to adapt or die - I guess you're doing this right now, but do your utmost to avoid making the same mistakes of the past and most importantly, set up your partners to succeed, because my gut tells me they're about to walk into a suicide mission
- Hire and train like there's no tomorrow - follow through, be open minded, pursue knowledge like a pig pursues truffles (gotta throw in some Ogilvy)
That's it. Look forward to sending you the book.