International Launch of BMW Welt
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

International Launch of BMW Welt

After seven years of planning and four years of construction, the BMW Group opened BMW Welt on 20 October 2007 at headquarters in Munich.

Paul Holmes

After seven years of planning and four years of construction, the BMW Group opened BMW Welt on 20 October 2007 at headquarters in Munich. In the unique building designed by star-architecture office Coop Himmelb(l)au, visitors can discover “The Art of Being BMW”. Brand and product presentations, the special experience of car collection, exhibitions, a junior campus, gastronomy and shops are ready to be explored. For the first time the company was confronted with the challenge of communicating a very special product – not only the launch of a new vehicle, but also the opening of a unique building, an event area and concept which should assume symbolic power for the entire company and brand. The complexity of the building and its content required new communication paths for a company which is experienced mainly in product, economic and corporate communication.


The communication of the launch of such a “product” represented major challenges for BMW and the agency involved: 1. BMW Group was not the first car manufacturer who offered a staging of the collection as well as the brand. As for the communication, it was expected that the uniqueness of BMW Welt would be emphasized and not be interpreted as me-too product. 2. BMW Group engages customers and fans from all over the world – the communication briefing therefore stated the clear instruction to enthuse for BMW Welt internationally although it is a local concept – well, a building. 3. A bridge was to be erected in communication, representing the ground for a successful opening. The architect and the owner faced numerous challenges due to the innovative design. This resulted in delays to the opening on several occasions which had to be nationally and internationally absorbed by communication planning.


Objective of the campaign

• International announcement of BMW Welt, i.e. addressing and enthusing customers and visitors worldwide

• Positioning of BMW Welt as overall concept, as a place to meet the company and the brand

• Presentation of BMW Welt as unique concept and clearly differentiated from the competition

• Development of excitement to optimally prepare the opening of the BMW Welt and attract as many visitors as possible (goal: 850.000 visitors per year)


Strategy and measures

The international communication strategy of the BMW Welt is based on four success factors:

1. global message architecture which allows seamless communication worldwide

2. media strategy with a pure focus on global influencing media in the beginning

3. identification of “architecture” as an international key topic

4. addressing “mass media” due in time for the opening event


 1. Global message architecture: As for every product launch, it was crucial for the communication of BMW Welt t provides the basis for standard global communication. The demand was made to communication that these messages reflect in the majority of publications and the assessment of decision makers, customers and visitors. Please find an excerpt of messages below:

• BMW Welt stands for the unique meeting with the company and brand of BMW. Nowhere can the company and brand of BMW be experienced in such concentrated form. It demonstrates the

dedication and the responsibility of the company and it is a clear commitment to Munich as a important location to BMW.

• BMW Welt is far more than a pure “brand site”. It positions itself as a place to meet which – as does the company and brand – brings people together, inspires and enthuses them.

• BMW Welt engages its visitors with all senses and offers remarkable experiences. BMW Welt

therefore creates unforgettable moments for every visitor – memorable moments.

• BMW Welt excels with its fantastic architectural design which again emphasizes the existing BMW architecture at the site and harmonizes with the existing stand architecture at the same time.


2. Focus on global influencing media: Ketchum’s task was to address customers and visitors throughout the world. To this end, the agency first identified the core markets of the company and brought them in line with the core markets of the city of Munich. As a new tourist attraction in Munich, BMW Welt also addresses the “customers” of Munich: its inhabitants as well as tourists. The intersection between “BMW and Munich customers” defined the strategically most important markets and therefore the global communication focuses: 17 countries on 3 continents. Starting point of the communication was, however, not regionally. Before country-specific communication, the task was to raise global attention as well as covetousness and a “must have seen” feeling for the building in Munich. First the campaign selectively started in the three

media centers of the world: New York, London and Peking. 16 global influencing media, such as the New York Times, Financial Times Europe, Bejing Youth Daily, as well selected German core media, such as the Süddeutsche Zeitung, WirtschaftsWoche, Lufthansa Magazin, were identified. They were individually addressed before the opening event in order to place quality articles on the wide range of topics of BMW Welt in so-called “copy media” three months before the launch and to gradually increase the media interest.    A topic catalogue was defined in close cooperation between BMW and Ketchum on the basis of which an exclusive press address was organized. This resulted in publications such as in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal (Weekend), Wallpaper, Fortune Magazine, ORF, WirtschaftsWoche, Manager Magazin, Five To Nine, etc. Only after this phase did the public relations in the individual countries start; supported by a international PR-Toolbox with all basic information, material for press releases, briefings and news hooks for individual media pitchings.


3. “Architecture” as international core topic: Architecture turned out to be the most sustainable topic internationally, it therefore had the role of the global agenda setting. While in the daily, business and lifestyle press only core media reported selectively in advance, the architecture and design press was comprehensively and broadly involved. The only press event before the opening was devoted to the topic of architecture only, taking place 18/19 July. With the motto “BMW Welt. Architecture.” BMW invited more than 14 international and 14 German media together with the architect Prof Wolf D. Prix to offer inclusive insights. The thus generated clippings provided the ground for broad reporting for the opening event of 20 October.


4. Development of suspense and mass communication for the opening event: To increase the media interest towards the opening event, a targeted countdown phase was initiated nationally and internationally. The core markets were given a comprehensive PR tool box equipped with all relevant tools for local press work, such as core messages, strategy, press texts, Q&A, images, etc. They were presented in the internal press club of 17 countries.


Two countdown releases (6 weeks and 1 week before the opening event) heralded the direct launch phase. These also included numerous press dates on site – with building site tours, extensive background meetings as well as exclusive photo shootings.


More than 500 international press representatives took up the invitation to the press conference on 17 October, three days before the first public days on 20 and 21 October. The 70-page press folder on the opening event of BMW World was available in seven languages.



BMW Welt was celebrated throughout the world in a total over 1,000 articles in more than 20 countries (e.g. Australia, Bulgaria, China, Dubai, UK, Norway, Japan, Austria, Switzerland, South Africa, Ukraine, Hungary, US). The core media strategy turned out to be successful and effective. Coverage evaluation showed that

• 85 % of the defined global influencing media was achieved – positive and substantial articles had been achieved in all global influencing media titels. These publications were successfully quoted from other media, e.g. the first article in the New York Times was used 20 times by other media (print and online) in at least four different countries.

• The architecture event generated 17 publications in leading special interest titles worldwide

The content media analysis proved an overall positive reporting:

• The core messages were taken up internationally in more than 73 % of articles. (e.g. “Heritage and Horsepower”: New York Times 27 July, “Munich cathedral is consecrated to cars” : International Herald Tribune 27 July, “Car-chitecture: New museums enshrine the brand”: The Wall Street Journal 5 October, “Sturm und Drang”: Wallpaper Ed. 10/07, “Pilgerstädte zu den inneren Werte der Marke”: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung 21 October)

• The comparison with the ranges of other German car manufacturers is made, but BMW Welt was never negatively described me-too product, it was in fact often emphasized that “BMW has the global plan”.

• 65 % of the articles recommended a visit or mentioned the BMW Welt as a place to see.

More than 500,000 visitors came to BMW Welt October to December 2007

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