Free podcasts become driving force in BMW's branding push

BMW has partnered with the Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conference (TED) to offer a series of podcasts that are downloadable at www.ted.com/tedtalks.

BMW has partnered with the Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conference (TED) to offer a series of podcasts that are downloadable at www.ted.com/tedtalks.

The sponsorship ties into BMW's latest brand effort by its new ad agency Austin, TX-based GSD&M. The campaign touts BMW as a leader in design, technology, and engineering, with the theme, "Great ideas become great driving machines." While the effort consists primarily of ads, BMW is associating itself with events aimed at intellectuals and designers to shore up its credentials in those areas. BMW recently sponsored a fete in New York for Iraq-born architect Zaha Hadid, who designed BMW's plant in Leipzig, Germany and is the subject of a Guggenheim Museum show. BMW is also hosting stream video of TEDTalks on its Web site www.bmwusa.com/TED.

Idea: The podcasts consist of the talks that were delivered at the TED Conference in Monterey, CA, on February 22-25. BMW will sponsor the talks next year, as well. TEDTalks inaugural speakers included Al Gore, Macarthur Award recipient Majora Carter, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, New York Times tech columnist David Pogue, education visionary Ken Robinson, and Hans Rosling, founder of the nonprofit Gapminder. More talks from the conference will be released weekly featuring personalities from the fields of technology, entertainment, and design.

Tools: According to Patrick McKenna, marketing manager for BMW North America, "Great Ideas" is a communications platform that ties into TEDTalks based on the mutual belief that great ideas can change the world. "It's more than just a sponsorship," said McKenna. "It's an alignment of our ideals."

Measurement: BMW and TED are measuring Web site traffic. "BMW Web site traffic is way up," said McKenna. "[It's] matched that of the BMW Films that were featured a few years ago."

Organization: BMW
Campaign: TEDTalks
PR team: Rubenstein & Associates
Other marketing: None
Launched: June 27, 2006
Budget: Undisclosed

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