BMW’s Storm Cooper: A Mini-Coup Rather than a PR Blunder?

Stormy Weather for BMW?

For a fee, Germany allows people or companies to sponsor the names of weather fronts. So last month, to promote the “wind and weatherproof” capabilities of its Mini Cooper line, BMW’s marketing agency purchased naming rights to a high pressure system that originated in Siberia.

But the Cooper storm turned out to be far more than weather forecasters and BMW expected. As the storm made its way through Eastern Europe, its sustained sub-zero temperatures were attributed to the deaths of more than 250 people.

PR industry pundits and critics have been quick to jump on BMW for its decision to associate its brand with what has turned out to be one of Europe’s most deadly winter storms on record. A headline in the Wall Street Journal announced: “Weather Deal Backfires for BMW’s Mini.”

But did it really?

Although BMW quickly and properly issued a statement saying that it regretted the weather front’s severity, and distancing itself from the deadly consequences of weather, the car company’s $400 investment in Storm Cooper may have been a PR bonanza rather than a black eye.

The Wall Street Journal’s position notwithstanding, few people are likely to blame BMW for the storm’s impact, or to associate the Mini Cooper brand with the casualties. However, if top-of-mind awareness is a beneficial marketing objective for a car company, then the exponentially greater, world-wide storm-related coverage for BMW’s Mini Cooper marque certainly won’t hurt showroom traffic or the company’s balance sheet.

In this case, the old saw, “All publicity is good publicity” may well be true. I’m confident that BMW’s marketing agency considers this a solid win, rather than a blunder.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “BMW’s Storm Cooper: A Mini-Coup Rather than a PR Blunder?

  1. Its hard sometimes to anticipate the impact of our public marketing ventures. Look at the #McDonalds twitter campaign for more insights on that one

  2. At a guess I’d say the global discussion over whether the sponsorship deal was a smart idea or not is good for the brand. It’s possibly the best value marketing spend of the year to date.

    • I’ve been surprised at how quickly the business media have jumped all over BMW on this. I don’t think they were as tough on Accenture and other Tiger Woods sponsors after he imploded. In this case, I think bad luck worked in BMW’s favor.

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