BMW: USOC deal drives strong sales
BMW’s promotion of “Drive for Team USA” events around the London Games helped it sell more than 6,000 new cars.
More than 300 dealerships nationwide participated in the promotion, sending fliers to prospective BMW buyers offering them a chance to attend a special test-drive event and receive a limited-time $1,000 allowance toward the purchase of a new vehicle. The company had a member of Team USA at each of the events and made a $10 donation to the U.S. Olympic Committee for every test drive taken. The promotion was focused on the company’s 3 and 5 Series models.
More than 26,535 people turned out to test drive cars, and BMW converted approximately 25 percent of those drivers into buyers of approximately 6,633 new cars. Sports marketing experts say a successful conversion rate for most sponsorship programs typically is 10 percent.
BMW’s cars range in price from $30,650 to $113,100, and the average price of its current 29 cars and SUVs is $63,251. As a result, total sales tied to the “Drive for Team USA” program exceeded $150 million.
BMW offers test drive promotions every summer. The number of people who test drove cars was up 47 percent from 2010, which was the last time BMW ran a test-drive promotion tied to its USOC sponsorship. BMW didn’t track conversion rates for the 2010 program.
The car manufacturer signed a six-year agreement with the USOC valued at $4 million a year in July 2010.
Trudy Hardy, manager of marketing communications and consumer events at BMW of North America, said the company tracks sales on a 12-month basis and expects this year’s 25 percent conversion rate to increase in the coming months.
“As a car company, we always do a summer sales event, but this was a great way to tie in with the Olympic movement,” Hardy said. “It generated such a spirit and energy. It really gave us a great message and allowed all of our dealers to operate under a great umbrella.”
In addition to sending out targeted marketing to potential buyers, BMW took a fleet of its cars to the headquarters of USOC partners such as Nike, AT&T, Dow and others and allowed their employees to test drive them. It was the first time BMW had done that, Hardy said.
The company complemented those promotions with advertising on NBC during the Olympics and market-specific offerings during the U.S. Olympic trials. During the USA Swimming trials in Omaha, Neb., it gave away 100 tickets to BMW owners and offered VIP parking near the arena for BMW owners.
It also used its Olympic sponsorship to promote sales across its dealerships nationwide. The top 40 dealers were invited to London for the Olympics over the summer. They were taken to the English countryside and then taken to a series of events ranging from the opening ceremony to swimming to men’s basketball.
Hardy said the company plans to continue to leverage its USOC partnership in promotions. It recently invited top dealers to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., where they were able to test drive the auto manufacturer’s new 3 Series.
The company worked on its London Games promotions with Octagon, its sports marketing agency; Fleishman-Hillard, its public relations agency; and Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal and Partners, its creative agency.