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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #89: If BMW were a person, would this be a cry for help? | Hagerty Media

"Hey, Grandpa! Have you been sniffin' at the gas pumps too long?" And with that witty phrase, we're ready for the longest four minutes and seven seconds you've ever spent on the Internet. The plot of this BMW i-something video goes like so: A new electric BMW SUV (the iX) arrives at a museum, where [...]
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-89-if-bmw-were-a-person-wo...
53 REPLIES 53
Mogowner
Intermediate Driver

Good article Jack, I think I understand your feelings exactly. As a current BMW owner I am disappointed in the apparent attempt to change their model line from "drivers cars" to match the rest of the mushy offers from many of the other manufacturers.
kyree-williams
Pit Crew

I mean, to be frank, this is just awful marketing. BMW's marketing in general has been pretty bad lately. As a millennial in his late twenties, I polled several of my millennial friends who *don't* particularly care about cars, or marketing (and so wouldn't have a dog in the fight) and they all thought this was a stupid video. The company I'd have expected this from---especially as it tries to remake itself into a tech company---is GM, but even GM's people apparently know better than to crap all over a Buick Electra 225 or Sedan de Ville while peddling one of their upcoming fifty'leven EVs.

I do wonder if BMW strategically chose the E65, and a pre-LCI one at that, because it would offend the lowest number of enthusiasts who might watch the video. It's the BMW everyone loves to hate. To be sure, the pre-2006 ones were pretty awful, and looked like something you'd see featured on the show "River Monsters." And so, it made the perfect sacrificial lamb for this video. The E38 and anything prior would be sacred, while the F01 is still too new (having been sold as recently as MY2015) and looks too close to the G11 they're currently peddling. And one of the smaller cars wouldn't have illustrated the point.

That BMW plans to discontinue its current N74 V12 (which is used in the M760i as well as all the Rolls-Royce models) in 2023 with no replacement makes the E65 760Li a fitting "Boomer" actor. Mercedes-Benz already *did* discontinue their V12, and I imagine it's only a matter of time before VW Group dumps the W12 used in the Bentley products. It truly is the end of the "irreverent" luxury sedan. Tomorrow's Uber Executive and Exotic Cars will feature some form of hybrid propulsion or be purely electric (perhaps Lexus was ahead of the curve with the old LS 600hL, then), in lieu of large cylinder counts.

As for the E65 itself, I have some love for it, primarily because the interior truly was magnificent. It was one of the only times---the other being the original E23 generation---that the 7 Series had a special, unique interior within the lineup. Other generations' interiors could really be confused for those of the contemporary 5 Series by anyone who didn't know better.

But...any variant of the E65 is absolutely gorgeous, compared to the iX featured in the video, which just looks godawful. Lord knows I'm not against EVs or crossovers, but did they really have to style it so poorly? It has none of the quirky-but-cool charm of the departed i3, and seems content to discard every traditional BMW styling cue there is, other than the exaggerated full-height kidney grille. If it was made by Mitsubishi, it wouldn't look any different. Also, the name is stupid. What happens when BMW makes *another* crossover that's EV-only, as they most assuredly will? They'll probably start resorting to tacking on more letters. iXa, iXb, iXn...

Anyway, thanks for reading my long diatribe.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I'm just happy to see you on this site, so I'll read whatever you write --- jb
gpsuya
Intermediate Driver

Agree 100%. I remember when as BMW owners we'd do the headlight flash when meeting on the highway. Do it now, & all you see in the rearview is the guys brake lights coming on thinking there's a speed trap ahead. The uniqueness of owning a Bimmer pretty much left with the silly "Bangle look" era.
CitationMan
Instructor

Here’s how you know JB is right. In any large corporation, a corporate statement like this has to go through multiple layers. 100+ people looked at or approved this. And all of these self-loathing dopes thought it was fine. RIP BMW
TeutonicScot
Intermediate Driver

Spot on Jack!
From the video:
"I provide natural and emotional interaction with a characteristic attractive visualization"
Am I driving a car or hanging out in some digital, futuristic brothel?

"I know everything, I'm always online!"
Tells me everything I need to know about this "car" and the people who will be "driving" it.
I'll stick with my old E21, whatever happened to the Ultimate Driving Machine?
tripled
Pit Crew

I would go one step further. I just sold my manual 2016 BMW M235i in order to buy and restore a 2005 BMW 330Ci. No doubt, the M235i is way faster than my 330Ci, but it has turbo lag, steering that is lighter with less feel that my dad's Olds Vista Cruiser, and a suspension that doesn't seem to be happy in any of the modes that I could configure it for. By comparison, the 330Ci is reasonably quick, sounds better doing it, has a properly damped suspension (with new Koni struts and shocks), and the steering feel that made BMW a popular driver's car.
Good thing that the video didn't pick on the E46 cars!
Gary_Bechtold
Instructor

Yeah this whole advertising campaign is definitely a poorly thought out thing someone thought was hip and cool and edgy and was going to generate attention. It has generated some attention but I haven't seen anyone who thought it was a good idea to piss on your old cars/customers like this. I'm not sure how this makes anyone want to buy a BMW. The image it leaves behind is a BMW owner is some know-it-all entitled jerk who throws OK Boomer around just to shut up anyone they don't like. Yeah that's going to get me to buy one. Not!

Seriously the worst crime is BMW styling. What happened to them? They are all looking like some sort of rodent on the front end. Is BMW capable of restrained classic styling anymore? Is it capable of a great drivers car anymore? Sadly it looks like they are having an identity crisis partially due to their coming electric future and partially due to they chased everyone else and now have forgotten what they did best.

"Bangled" cars suddenly look good compared to current BMW models.
MATTMERICA
Instructor

The new cars look like a rodent in the front and a camry from behind. It is sad.
RayBrandes
Pit Crew

Well, I will stick to my 700's Not perfect, but pretty close. As simple as a Beatle, but much better handling and looks.
https://www.bmw700.ray-vin.com/census/census.htm
psmith
Pit Crew

JB -
Yes to all of this, it's way more than a story about BMW.
Regarding BMW, they lost their way the moment they had Bangle style their product.
PS
CarciergeGlenn
Intermediate Driver

Good article Jack, as always. Yes; as we get "un-younger" in our years, we do get a different perspective on life, that is certain. I don't use the "o" word (old) since my wife (a nurse) has had long-term nursing home patients who had 3 digits in their years and the last wasn't a zero; I can concur that's getting old, for a human being! But with age often comes wisdom, in being able to look at a rich number of experiences over time. Something none of us "gets" when we have fewer years, and that's just the nature of life. So I try not to look down on younger people, and while it is offensive to be disrespected solely due to age, it merely shows a lack of maturity and wisdom which naturally is part of life when not fully grown up. Sadly BMW must have grown-up (physically) adolescents for PR people, and let's just say the management approving this are complicit in it and leave it at that!
MarveH
Intermediate Driver

I'm really surprised this article was allowed out of the corral, were all the ladies in the office out for lunch?
I don't own a BMW and probably wouldn't own one past say, 1999, so I don't have a dog in this fight.
The advertising you describe, however, is all too common, trashing past male customers and catering to the self-aggrandizing social justice worriers. I wonder about marketing that says, "Hey, we hate men too!"
How about treating all customers, past and future with a little dignity and respect?
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

To the contrary, I wrote it when *I* when I was out for lunch!
Yuros
New Driver

Well, if YouTube like to dislike ratio is any indication, vast majority of people who watched this share your sentiment. This was just a cringy slap in the face for all workers who made cars of the past. That IX doesn't seem to realize that sales of those boomer cars are what made it's own development possible.
MATTMERICA
Instructor

This is the best piece regarding anything auto that I have read in a month of sundays. I have owned several BMWs and currently have a modified 2014 335i as a daily driver, and it occurred to me the other day while I was looking at pre-owned BMWs that anything AFTER 2018, styling wise, is not attractive to me. The new M5? Styling wise it is a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a bowl. But no worries, instead of buying some weakly designed bavarian cream puff I will focus on the classics in my garage, and when BMW gets their act together maybe I will come back. Although if the prices keep plummeting on the 2018 M5 I might be back for one more bite of the apple as I am seeing sub-29k mileage vehicles in the low 50k range lol
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Yeah, that's a heck of a way to do 180mph for Honda Pilot Touring money...
CitationMan
Instructor

I’ll bet you could ask each person responsible for this video “What business is BMW in?” and not one of them would say “automobiles”.
Flashman
Instructor

Another enjoyable educational pastiche, with even a Dune reference. I'll read whatever you write, too.
drhino
Instructor

The last BMW with truly great steering feel was the E90. I had one for 10 years, pure magic. I wouldn’t have a new Bimmer if you gave it to me. They have abandoned their (old) mission and customer base chasing market share. There used to be a real delineation between BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Each had their own loyalists because of the personalities and idiosyncrasies of the brands. Now they are basically the same cars with different badges. And none of them are special in any way. Shared mediocrity.

The wider (and much more important) points made by Mr. Baruth here are spot on. As an old cranky guy, I applaud.
Swamibob
Instructor

So, BMW: What you're telling me is you've hired a LOT of people, from GM, into your Marketing department and after a lot of meetings where the self loathing froth covered the tables, floors and probably the walls and the flagellation went on for hours; along with ripping and tearing anything having to do with "The Ultimate Driving Machine days: You give us "Hey Grandpa. Have you been sniffing at the gas pump too long?"

Wow, how the mighty have fallen! I'm not a huge fan of BMW, I prefer muscle cars that are modified to look and handle much better than their predecessors, but I still dig a cool car, foreign or domestic. I was a fan of the 2002 racing back in the day, a fan of the 320i racing back in the day and even today I still enjoy seeing a nice one out running the cloverleaf's at speed. What I don't like is a condescending car talking to me as if I were a really old child who doesn't 'get' what the youth movement is putting down.
Apparently BMW not only hates themselves and their far superior past, they even hate their previous owners. The new BMW seems to hate those people so much, they just pat them on the head and say, "you were a big deal in your day (owner of a gas powered BMW), but it's a new day and we're taking over. So, get out of our way". I think to call that video asinine might be a bit harsh, but I'm not a BMW owner. I've been the owner of a lot of Ford and GM cars and I'm feeling very much the same thing coming from those manufacturers also.

I too, feel bad for the regular people that work for BMW. They better keep their heads down or they might suffer the same sort of cancellation their companies heritage is undergoing right now.
Jack: I love this line: "We’ve become obsessed, as a society, with the tearing down of anything that might remind us of a past in which we were not personally the narcissistic center of everyone’s attention. " It's so right on, given the full on BULLY mentality of so many people in today's society. Anything they don't espouse should be stricken from the earth. Kinda reminds one of stories that came out of East Berlin back when we were younger. Children informing on neighbors and family members, even their parents, who weren't quite up to what the State said a good (east) German should believe and behave like. But if we discuss that sort of thing too openly, we'll just get shouted down by a younger generation who never learned history and think the berlin Wall is just a myth.
The next sentence in that paragraph is also right on: "Raised on the shoulders of giants, given world peace by Reagan and abundant food by Borlaug and cheap computing by Grove, we’ve decided to devote ourselves to an endless spiral of ideological pursuits, a circular firing squad in which the loudest accusations are always taken at face value by hordes of people who have lost any connection with the ancient art of critical thinking." Lack of critical thinking...

Videos like that just disappoint me. Fortunately, I'm not likely to purchase a new car any time soon. Even less likely if when I go into a dealership and the sales team pats me on the back and tells me my old car was quite the machine back in the day! Does it still burn the evil and dreaded gasoline?

Guess I'll just have to go out into the shop and start planning the new high efficiency, high output small block Chevy I'm going to put in the El Camino for the Spring. .
PRNDL
New Driver

After owning two BMWs I will never own another. I agree with Jack that the company seems determined to carve an entirely new constituency from thin air, having abandoned it's core base of owners. Puzzling but not that surprising. BMW has always had a quirky product. It just that they never before hated their customers so much.
SJacobT
Detailer

Bravo! Maestro! As a older white man, I also make time to nurture my grievance regularly and at the merest provocation!
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

If we don't, who will?
OldCarMan
Instructor

The eco-nazis are hell-bent on killing the ICE powered vehicles. With no good infrastructure plan, we will all be assigned who, what, and when we can go anywhere!
SJacobT
Detailer

No step on snayk!
atat327
Pit Crew

I have not and won't own a BMW (someone already said they don't have a dog in the fight), but your article was captivating in the social commentary. Whether it was "suffocated by a world that has embraced mediocrity" or "raised on the shoulders of giants" or any of the other hidden gems, I found myself digging in and thoroughly enjoying the intricacies of your piece as well as the over-arching theme. Bravo, sir, and I look forward to seeing your next article!
Bmike
Detailer

Hoo boy, that video was alarming. If that's the info superhighway that we're supposed to be heading down, I think I'll turn off and stick to the b-roads. Btw, slap the big(ger) valve head and intake system from a contemporary 325i on the that 528e (e to i conversion), and enjoy about 30 HP more fun.
CABRIO-STEVE
Pit Crew

Several wins ago, Kim Reynolds (then of Road&Track) penned a full page article celebrating the steering feel of the E36 M3. As the owner of two of these I can attest that his enthusiasm was spot on. Subsequent ownership of an E85 M roadster with its gorgeous and sonorous normally aspirated 6 cylinder was a delight. After that the tech folks took over the brand and produced such abominations as the I3. Anytime I hear the phrase “OK Boomer” my immediate and uncontrollable reaction is “f—k you and your golf cart car too”.
Cornbinder
Intermediate Driver

Well stated, Jack. I've owned and driven an E-9 BMW for so long that you can't buy a parts car today for what I paid for mine. That bias stated, it seems that part of the reason that pre-Bangle era BMW's are markedly increasing in value is that since then the current BMW has become a hot-mess generic mass-market entity (they became the best selling "luxury brand" in the US for 2020) instead of when it was The Ultimate Driving Machine and worked to cater to that market. Some of almost feel we have an orphan brand, since this is NOT the BMW that fueled our enthusiasm decades before. Feeding the Sales Machine only makes companies more hollow, more soul-robbing. And freak-show design doesn't help. Which I though was the reason for the title of the article, but it all rings true. I won't even gratify BMW or Google in the form of U-tube the head count to even go look at the video.
JorisNL
Pit Crew

I fully agree with:
"...instead of when it was The Ultimate Driving Machine and worked to cater to that market. Some of almost feel we have an orphan brand, since this is NOT the BMW that fueled our enthusiasm decades before. Feeding the Sales Machine only makes companies more hollow, more soul-robbing. And freak-show design doesn't help. ..."

The last owned BMW i loved was a 11/2010 E91 330D xDrive (i drive offroad too).
My daily driver 440i with adaptive suspension really is a dissapointment:
- almost none 6-cilinder emotions at all (so it is better te buy the 4-cilinder and save money).
- Not matching the Ultimate driving machine feeling of the past.
- Bad Hifi (so i replaced the amplifier and speakers, standard speakers seemed te be China made quality.
- and too much pre installed computer settings (like: door open and the car cannot drive etc.).
- i never liked the dashboard design although i payed a lot for the upgrade (fake) leather trim to compensate this problem a little.
The automatic 8-speed is very good though. The engine power(band) is offcourse good too. The build quality is good. So it is not a bad caar, but i really really miss a lot of emotions.
TRdelux
Intermediate Driver

Maybe that should be BMW's new tag line. We're out to make driving mediocre again.
hyperv6
Gearhead

BMW dug themselves a hole with building cars the same for so many years. This prevents them from really making much of a change. 

 The Bangle era cars were even worse with the Bangle Butt and the dame Edna nose. 

Tsaxman
Detailer

I owned three BMWs in the 1990s and enjoyed two out of the three. My adult son is still driving my 4th, a 3 series coupe. I want nothing to do with their current iteration.

Unfortunately for Baruth and me, we are apparently in the midst of what some describe as the nadir of our saeculum. In short, it appears as though the Baby Boomers have boomed and are now simply sizzling and fizzling out at a dizzying rate, like expended fireworks tumbling to the ground in an impuissant crash.

While I am a mere dilettante in eschatology, I accept that I may be witnessing ekpyrosis of both our generation and the internal combustion engine. That said, here's a little bit of wisdom and truculence from Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Who among us has NOT been a dilettante in eschatology? 🙂
Gary_Bechtold
Instructor

Well even in the new digital utopia BMW is going to give us I think these three things will still be relevant...
BMW = Buy More Warranty
and if you don't it will be a... BMW = Big Money Waster
And finally BMW = Blinker Means What? based on the drivers I see in their cars. Turn signal must be in some tech package they never buy. I'll be here all week, try the Veal. :^)
MaverickNutron
Intermediate Driver

"...we’ve decided to devote ourselves to an endless spiral of ideological pursuits, a circular firing squad in which the loudest accusations are always taken at face value by hordes of people who have lost any connection with the ancient art of critical thinking."
- PRICELESS!
santoshlv426
New Driver

BMW as a car brand lost it's magic and identity from the first Chris Bangle bungle and has gotten steadily worse.
It's a brand that we all lusted after as young people in the 1990's. I was in high school then and having a BMW, any BMW was a dream come true. Having something like an E30 or E46 was like a trip to the moon ! One day I said... well today I wouldn't waste money on BMW for any reason - not even the i8, which is mostly fibre-glass.
This is another example of how BMW is continuing it's mission to alienate what should be its most lucrative market - the Generation X'ers.
elldorado2000
Intermediate Driver

There are at least a half dozen YouTuber's that owe their success to the lack of reliability of BMW's. They are very fond of buying one....and it really doesn't seem to matter what model they buy....and videoing the futile effort of trying to sort one out.
QueueEssay
New Driver

As horrible as the ad is IMO, it likely appeals to the targeted demographic and like much of advertising reflects society. Surely they tested it.

But all ads should pass the laugh test (if intended to be matter of fact/serious) and there were quiet a few laughable moments; some of my favorites were:

The old man calling the you female “whippersnapper.” Doesn’t BMW know this is a term Sugar Daddies use for the young females they procure? Many of which probably provide BMW’s?

The other is the “I’ve got experience” vs. “I know everything; I’m always online.” Fantastic.

Great article. I think most all enthusiasts would agree with your comments on the heritage. I greatly miss my E46M3.
CJinSD
Advanced Driver

Anyone who watches that video and wants a BMW deserves the future they're going to get.
JorisNL
Pit Crew

Ovation for Jack !
bhart
Pit Crew

Professional production, amateur script.
garcuri
Pit Crew

I've been saying it for the last five years: BMW has lost it's way. I saw it in the bizarre styling of some of the more recent models ( not all, but the X6... seriously? )*, I saw it in the increasingly inane and puerile content of the BMW CCA club magazine ( ROUNDEL ), and I've seen it in their advertising and their foolish insistence on being trés á la mode and uber-woke. No longer content to be simply the "Ultimate Driving Machine" ( a slogan assigned to them, by the way, by former GM executive, Bob Lutz ), BMW has followed the marketing crowds and is attempting to be "all things to all people". So much for having a distinct automotive identity.

* As Jay Leno once asked me while stopped on Mulholland Drive ( Jay was looking and pointing at the odd "330iS" badging on the trunk lid of my E30 😞
"Who's responsible for this?" ( photo of the incredibly bloated, ugly X6 goes here! )

Inline8OD
Intermediate Driver

Why lament Gen X- and Y-ers indifference to cars built before they were born, which they can hardly afford nor work on? If a car has merits, there will always be an audience, as there remains for prewar Buicks, Packards, Delahayes, brass era titans like Loziers, Simplex Speed Cars, Chadwicks and hundreds of others from the first half of the 20th century.
Meanwhile, since this is gearhead forum, can we skip the downhome politik, as with "....given world peace by Reagan..." What planet are you living on? If you're referring to Russia, we merely outspent them, saddling future generations with crushing debt, much of which owned by China. The Berlin Wall had cracks in it before it was built starting with Louis Armstrong's and Jack Teagarden's All Stars Goodwill tours, later those cracks widened with Russian kids wanting transistor radios, Beatle records, blue jeans, and finally their parents tiring of lining up for three hours to buy toilet paper.
Single marque-itis isn't the best vantage point for overarching world or automotive view.
oilbrnr
Pit Crew

Are you sure you really wanted to skip the "downhome politic"? lol
02-orignal-ownr
Detailer

BMW has become a victim of its own success, trying to be all things to all people, and not doing nearly as well as they did when their focus was on sporting sedans and coupes.

As a BMW owner for nearly 52 years (the same car!), I think I'll stick with my 2002s, and their 1990's equivalent, an E30 318is. None of the new ones really interest me--too large, too heavy, too complicated and too full of geegaw gadgets.

Carguyrick
New Driver

Jack, your writing is a breath of fresh air! It is wonderful to read an auto writer that does not read like a freshly graduated journalism student forced to write about automobiles.
Maybe articles like this will wake up someone at BMW but unfortunately it is doubtful. The last great BMW video "advertising" was the series of films titled The Hire featuring Clive Owen wailing away of several models of then current BMW's.
We cannot and should not cancel our automotive past just to encourage moving to an electric future. Just look at how Ford is marketing the new Mach E and embracing the heritage of Mustangs before it.
While the world of transportation has to move forward, we can still honor and celebrate how we got here!
danhise
Intermediate Driver

Nice piece, Mr. B. "Dune" allusions are always welcome, but you really rocked it by exhuming poor Ms. Connelly.