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BMW and 007 - a happy marriage?

(BMW AG press release)
BMW and GoldenEye
In 1995, BMW pulled off a product-placement coup that will go down in film history. In GoldenEye, Bond drove a German car for the first time, an Atlanta blue BMW Z3 roadster, and only sporadically sat at the wheel of a silver metallic Aston Martin. Since BMW AG was just developing the new Z3 roadster (for which a new production plant was being built in Spartanburg, a city located in the Southern USA) a film team came to Munich to get an up-close impression of the new car. What they saw must have been convincing. A short while later a production assistant traveled with the (still secret) script to the Bavarian capital on the Isar River. She offered BMW some insight into the scenes that were planned, and an agreement was reached.

The humble Z3 became a Bond car

In this way, a cooperative partnership came to being in autumn 1994 between BMW AG and the film studio MGM and the production company EON Productions Ltd. in London - a partnership that continues today. The companies had already cooperated successfully in the past. In the 1983 007 film Octopussy, five police sedans and one BMW motorcycle were deployed to chase Bond - played by Roger Moore at that time - across the Berlin Avus. But this cooperative project took on new dimensions.

In 1995, many representatives of the media speculated over the sum that BMW paid for their vehicle to appear in the Bond film - and the answer astounded them all: We are not paying a penny and have no influence on the production of the film. For its part, BMW AG advertised the film in its campaign for the car. The term given to this exchange of interests is cross promotion. The two companies became marketing partners and both parties profited.

Of course, it lies in the nature of the matter that money was spent for more than just advertisements. This is because of the fact that - at the time that the film production company chose to go with the Z3 roadster - there where only handmade pilot models available. And it was precisely these one-off products that were manufactured at BMWís expense, and then transported and accompanied to the filming locations in Puerto Rico and London. They were even hand painted. The amusing comment of the painter: Bond drives an environmentally friendly car with water-based paint - but it was stirred, not shaken.

Pierce Brosnan with the Z8

BMW and Tomorrow Never Dies
While in 1995 the task was to make the Z3 roadster known and to place the value of the car, two years later - when the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies was made - the same task was to be performed for the R 1200 C motorcycle, which helps 007 out of a tight spot in Bangkok. For BMW AG, the development of this model was a step in a new direction. The company had never before put a Chopper on the market, and now Her Majestyís agent made it clear that it was possible to pull stunts with the heavy, 256-kilogram bike. In an exciting way, these stunts showed that a tourer can also be quite agile.

The result was a complete success. For the James Bond film, one of the most exciting and complex chase scenes of all times was created (including jumps). The four weeks of filming were worth the effort. For BMW, the Cruiser became the best-selling motorcycle for the year 1998.

At this point, we should not hold back the fact that, in the same film, a 750iL sedan also played a significant role and that the pursuers used a Range Rover. Both models were already on the market and impressively showed what they have to offer. They stood more for other attributes of the BMW company - such as driving safety, endurance, and excellent crash behavior. After all, what car is able to survive (almost undamaged) a fall from the seventh story of a parking garage into an office building across the street?

Film historians might be amazed that the BMW also fires off rockets, drops three-pointed steel nails, sprays gas, and is protected with an electric charge. The company has become more open as far as the presentation of its products and the integration into the film action is concerned. Nevertheless, the company still does not have any influence on the happenings in the film. And the questions of what other cars appear and what happens to them are decided exclusively by the film production company.

BMW and The World Is Not Enough
The most recent cooperative project for the latest James Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough, which will have its German premier in Berlin on November 24th and be released throughout Germany on December 9, 1999, began in January 1998. At that time, BMW pointed out to MGM and EON that a design study that at the time was still referred to as the Z07, was to be launched onto the market as a sports car. The study had already been shown at the Tokyo Motor Show.

The BMW 750iL starred alongside 007

When the preparations for the latest action adventure began in September, MGM an EON reported its interests and had a look at the prototype, which now wore the designation Z8. The appearance and performance turned out to be of interest, so the partners again agreed upon a special deployment. Three handmade prototypes with silver metallic paint and black leather interior trim left the works, and spent 1999 in front of the camera in Baku on the Caspian Sea, in England, and in the Pinewood Studios in London. They, too, were equipped with special options: The car:

  • can be operated by a remote control,
  • has a hidden rocket-firing station in the carís side vents and uses the windshield to display driver information.

These noble vehicles will also be available for purchase - although without the specially made equipment - beginning in mid 2000.

As was already the case with GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough is also a cross promotion project based on cooperation between BMW, MGM, and EON Productions Ltd. The film will show the BMW vehicle, and BMW will advertise the film in a cross promotional deal. This is accomplished worldwide with TV commercials, print ads, and displays in dealer showrooms. It will also be possible to see the connection between the film and BMW at trade shows and exhibitions, the last of which will be the IAA in Frankfurt, Germany.

Thus, for the third time in a Bond film, BMW has produced a unique vehicle which at the time of the release of the movie is not available for purchase on the market.


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