By Penny Davis
I dislike driving perhaps as much as driving dislikes me. I consider myself to be a horrible motorist. You could say I’m my own backseat driver.
Because of that, it might seem that my affinity for a particular car brand is yet another wrong turn taken somewhere on the journey. Still, here I stand, proudly declaring myself a loyalist to BMW. I might as well hold dual-citizenship with Bavaria.
My father taught me to drive on the curvy, hilly, congested roads of Atlanta in a red, four-speed Ford Escort. You could call the experience trial by error because I frequently stalled out on hills trying to turn left into our subdivision before hearing the reassuring voice of my dad in the passenger seat: “Try again. Don’t worry about those guys behind us.”
Once I learned to shift gears and not stall out, my confidence grew — and driving became a tolerable necessity.
Years later, I drove off to Central Michigan University in a four-speed Dodge Shadow. Marriage brought a Dodge Intrepid. The introduction of kids the saw the appearance of a more family-friendly Oldsmobile Silhouette followed by a Ford Flex.
These were all serviceable cars to get me to and from the everyday tasks of daily mom life: the work commute, running errands, practice and game schedules, doctor appointments, and family vacations. However, there was always something that seemed a bit absent about it all — none of those utilitarian vehicles felt like a driving machine.
Finally, with the kids almost launched and I was driving more for myself, I finally found a machine. A luxurious, fast, reliable, machine.
When you create a slogan, you make a promise. I grew up with BMW’s brand promise to be the Ultimate Driving Machine since the slogan was launched in 1973 by Bob Lutz.
BMW’s brand centered around emotion rather than the car. It was direct and aggressive, and it resonated. The products, well-defined and well-marketed, became an icon built on luxury, design and performance. Driving a BMW wasn’t a mundane chore, it was something you experienced and craved.
Take a test drive and they practically sell themselves.
Successful brands are built over years. And BMW’s brand extends past its slogan by over 100 years to its badge that was created in 1917 and its iconic split kidney-shaped grill that debuted 16 years later in 1933.
BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine campaign ran successfully for almost 40 years, making it one of the oldest slogans in the automotive industry.
Ultimately, in 2013, BMW replaced the Ultimate Driving Machine slogan with an equally apt and succinct tagline: Designed for Driving Pleasure.
Is driving to the grocery store a pleasure? It certainly is — and I still don’t worry about those guys behind me.