BMW has launched a new ad campaign for its 3-Series plug-in hybrid, the 330e, and it’s directly targeting buyers who have either already ordered a Tesla Model 3, or may be interested. The problem is that the campaign is laughably ironic.
Seen below are two commercials for the BMW 330e, a plug-in hybrid which pairs a 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder engine with a 7.6kwh battery pack offering a combined 248 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque and a reported 72 MPGe.
Here’s the first ad:
The ad, titled “Waiting,” goes over everything that will happen while you are “waiting” for that “electric car company’s new model.” You’ll do your taxes a few times, get through some New Year’s celebrations, and then you’ll do some more waiting. How obnoxious—especially when you could buy your neighbor’s BMW 330e, which is not an electric car, but instead a plug-in hybrid.
“It’s the car you’ve been waiting for, without the wait.”
No, they are waiting for a 200 mile range electric car, and are probably really looking forward to actually using indicators, which can even instruct the Model 3 to semi-autonomously change lanes, if they want.
But before we get into why the ads are so pathetically ironic, let’s go over the second one:
This one, called “Wait or Drive,” recalls everything you went through to reserve something which is inferred to be the upcoming Tesla Model 3, based on all the waiting you have to do now that you’ve made that deposit and put your name on that list. There’s also the shade glance over to the not-Tesla-but-Tesla-looking car charging stations in the parking lot.
I’ll admit this one is a little more effective with me with its approach to “driving” and “performance,” but ultimately both ads are laughably bad when you consider what Tesla has managed to do with the Model 3. Let’s recap!
So here we have two BMW advertisements, which BMW had to spend money on, targeting a car that can’t be directly mentioned but is very obviously Tesla’s Model 3.
The same Model 3 which gathered around 100,000 deposits before anybody even saw the car at its reveal, and then went on to accumulate roughly 370,000 total deposits in one week. The irony is that Tesla never had to pay for a single advertisement, or target a rival brand, or really even show too much of the car before over a quarter of a million people coughed up $1,000 to reserve one for themselves.
While playing on America’s lack of patience is a wise marketing move for BMW, the hundreds of thousands of Model 3 reservation holders knew what they were getting into.
BMW’s approach is flawed in thinking that these deposit holders may be frustrated with waiting. If they are, they must be dangerously spontaneous with their money.
The truth is that Tesla fans, and likely a majority of the Model 3's consumers, don’t want a car that looks exactly like every other 3-series on the road. They want people to know that what they are driving is distinctly different, and by extension that they are different.
Lexus differentiates with a design language so different it’s actually appalling, and Tesla does it with obvious aerodynamic styling and gimmicks like AutoPilot and Ludicrous Mode, and people love it.
All of this is not to say that the BMW 330e is a bad car, because it probably isn’t. It’s not to say the Model 3 will actually start shipping to customers when it was promised, because we all know Tesla has a horrible track record with keeping a schedule.
Perhaps BMW should have waited to run an ad focused on “waiting” for the Model 3 until Tesla actually delayed it, which realistically is highly likely to happen.
But BMW (ironically) didn’t want to wait, and now it has advertisements proving it has been intimidated by a competing car that isn’t even in production yet. A car which didn’t need any advertising on Tesla’s part to secure 370,000 orders.
Edit update: This article originally stated that Model 3 production was moved from 2020 to 2017, when in fact Tesla shifted plans to produce 500,000 vehicles a year from 2020 to 2017. The text has been corrected to reflect this.