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ADLX Review: 2011 BMW 550i

Next Week: F10 vs. E39 + 2011 BMW 550i Review

by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img Kevin Kusina & Phil Dunphy ::: BMW F10 550i & E39 M5

DRIVING into next week, we have a Bavarian treat in store. First, our upcoming review of the 2011 BMW 550i, a sumptuous luxury car featuring explosive performance. The new 5er’s so potent, in fact, that we couldn’t help but notice that the F10 550i’s V8 has eclipsed the power figures of the mighty E39 M5. At our good friend Hardy’s suggestion, we compared ‘n contrasted the two Teutons on a serpentine roadway that snakes through a Connecticut forest known as the Devil’s Hopyard. Keep it locked!

The Ultimate In Tasteful Marketing: BMW + Mad Men

by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img AMC ::: BMW Sponsors Mad Men

READ NY Mag’s recap of season four’s premiere of AMC’s Mad Men.

Logan Hill’s take was as concertedly analytical as what we’ve come to expect from New York‘s coverage of the series that depicts the madness behind the Brylcreem of Madison Avenue in the 60s. In his article, Mr. Hill referenced a line from Andy Warhol which applies nicely to cars and BMW’s ad campaign, in particular. Let’s reintroduce it here:

Warhol once said, “Lock up a department store today, open the door after a hundred years, and you will have a museum of art.” (Lock up an office in 1964, then pop it open on AMC in 2010, and, with a lot of creative license, you’ve got quality TV.)

How true.

BMW, who’s sponsored Mad Men‘s previous season, was presenting sponsor for this season’s premiere. And true to the show’s vintage nature, BMW’s commercials would’ve sated Janus himself – looking past first, then present.

In one of the spots, we see the BMW 5-Series in earlier forms – notably the E28. A BMW rep talks candidly on camera about the elegance of BMW’s past 5ers while we see company footage. Later on, another spot showcases the now familiar current bodystyle F10.

Past und present.

The last ad markets the bread ‘n butter 3er. We see E30 vintage 3-series sedans and then beauty shots of the current lineup while listening to chatter about “performance sedans”. The past and the future play equal parts again in a symphony for your attention (and hopefully dollars).

These spots culminate into great messaging by BMW.

Part of Mad Men‘s wide appeal is that the series reintroduces some of the glamorous aspects of commercialism in post war American society. Any company that associates itself with that classic aspect is making a case for the enduring appeal of its own brand’s identity. When is a bottle of Clorox art? When we see a bottle from the 60s deliberately re-presented.

When is a BMW art? When we see an vintage 5-Series in its former element. Being the Ultimate Driving Machine. This campaign ranks as an important departure from most car advertising which focuses on right now.

After all, to fully and faithfully subscribe to a brand identity like BMW, you have to maintain an appreciation for the past in order to ask buyers to re-invest in the present and the future.

BMW’s underwriting for Mad Men is mad marvelous.

First Take: 2011 BMW 5-Series

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  • 2011 BMW 5-Series appears sharp in some corners, generic in others
  • 5er design takes some cues from the 80s and current rivals
  • Face off with Mercedes-Benz E-Class looms large

By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG BMW, AG

IS it a Volvo? An Infiniti? No! It’s, it’s…

The next generation (F10), 2011 BMW 5-Series sedan.  Freshly unveiled after a week’s teasing, we knew that BMW would cast aside previous Bangle-ism to bring us an exec sedan more inline with the marque’s crisper past.

Now what to make of the effort?

From a profile P.O.V. and with the lighting cast as it has been to accentuate all those newly cut lines and softened edges, the sedan could well belong to other marques.

The 5 Series’ strongest familial tie lives in the space between the A and C pillars. There’s that familiar crisp arc with the strong Hoffmeister (or hockey puck) kink in the rear door frame that’s nicely silhouetted with a thin chrome lip. Following the kidney grille, this aspect stands as BMW’s best recognized design trademark and justly so.

The bonnet and boot, from this angle, appear relatively generic. You almost wonder whether Adrian Van Hooydonk’s team traced the Volvo S80′s outline in the front while considering the Infiniti M sedan’s proportions for the rear.

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That having been said, we can see that a concerted effort was made to tie-in the 3-Series sedan’s sporty character in the trunk lines, particularly those classically themed tail lamps which recall back to the (E32) 7-series of the late 80s/early 90s with the new twist in the neon-tube-effect LED displays.

We can also give the 2011 5-Series credit for proportional management.

The sedan appears slightly elongated thanks to a flatter, longer bonnet, but maintains the popular and aerodynamically efficient wedge shape. Again, horizontal cut lines along the side help maintain a leaner appearance, though that’s thwarted somewhat by fat aero skirts that add visual heft below the door sills.

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More than its milder new appearance, what makes this debut exciting is that for the first time in memory, BMW has unveiled a 5-Series right on the proverbial heels of a new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The debut’s timing quickly translates into a popularity contest entre les deux in terms of styling approval along with recession-proof potency.

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Benz is backing on 1980s design cues more than the slightly more avant-garde BMW. Both are conservative designs, to be sure, but it’ll be interesting nonetheless to see which wins wider favor in the marketplace.