Lito German on driving BMW’s digital ambition

Lito GermanBMW is one of the few brands that can claim to create content that consumers actually want to watch and share.

Lito German is BMW Group’s Asia marketing director. He was at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum in Singapore to talk to Mumbrella’s Asia editor Robin Hicks about the carmaker’s digital ambitions.

You’ve worked for BMW for ten years. What stands out for you as the tipping point for the BMW brand in digital?

For me it was The Hire, a series of eight short films [produced exclusively for the internet in 2002]. The Hire was an iconic moment for our brand.

‘The Hostage’ chapter of The Hire, directed by John Woo, can be viewed here.

There was no a sudden tipping point for us. It’s been a gradual process that has spiked with certain campaigns. In some areas we’re at the forefront, in others we’re lagging behind. But we’re moving in the right direction.

In 2010, our digital spend in Asia was fairly insignificant. In 2012, it was up to 15 per cent of our media budget. 2013 is a breakthrough year in which 20 per cent will go on digital. And 10-15 per cent of that figure will go on mobile, which is very high against an industry average of less than five per cent.

What have been the most successful digital campaigns for BMW?

BMW's All Access Pass

BMW’s All Access Pass

A campaign called the All-Access Pass [click here to see a video demo] puts mobile at the centre of our strategy. It is a service connector for all points of contact with the brand. Yes, it’s essentially just an app. But it’s a super app in terms of consumer engagement. Any ad or brochure can be scanned to access content. The best part is that we’re using cars as moving billboards – they can be scanned too. By pointing your mobile at a car, you can access video content, car specs and book a test drive at your nearest dealership, whether you’re in Singapore or Indonesia.

Where did the idea come from?

Our customers are very tech savvy, so we don’t wait for the latest gadgets to reach mass market penetration. If there a piece of augmented reality software that has just been released, I know my customers will already be using it. We’re the ones playing catch up. Customers are already asking when they will be seeing BMW content configurated for their 3D TVs. There’s an expectation and a demand that BMW is at the forefront of technology.

So, what’s to come?

We’re going to push even harder with digital. We’re very happy with the level of engagement we’re getting from the medium. It’s been some time since I was told, Lito, that was a great print ad. Print is no longer the way to open the door to consumers. Mobile is now the enabler for us to bring all of our content together.

What do you expect most from your agencies?

I’d like agencies to stop approaching content with the channel in mind. They’re still thinking in boxes, still thinking about writing a print ad or going on a TV shoot. The content and the message should determine the path for a brand, not the other way around.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing