For their 90th anniversary, BMW Motorrad (henceforth BMW) was gearing up to launch a new model in a category not normally associated with the BMW brand: custom bikes.
The need to build excitement and anticipation ahead of the launch of the aptly named R nineT presented a big challenge.
How do you make people desire something they haven’t seen?
To crack this, we tried to understand the mindsets of the core R nineT audience: riders passionate about custom bikes. We discovered that the journey is in the build; as much as enthusiasts enjoy proudly riding their customised bikes, the thrill of the build, the hand-crafting of customised parts, beautiful in their own right, and seeing it all come together in a finished bike - a revelation of their imagination and dedication - is what it’s all about. We knew we were on to something.
Custom bike lovers love their bikes even before the bike is born.
We decided to show them by taking them on a custom build journey.
A large national ATL awareness campaign made no sense for the size of the imported custom bike audience. Instead, we focused on where 70% of our intended audience go for interesting information: digital content. Enter the R nineT Custom Project, where four custom builders were each given an R nineT to do with as they pleased. We documented and broadcasted the journeys to as many riders as possible, and let the conversations begin.
A website was designed as the builders’ online diary for the entire the build duration. Video and blog posts containing intimate details of the parts being created brought fans behind the scenes. Builders “spoke” to the audience through voiceovers and greatly enhanced the total experience, giving them something to talk about. Content was amplified through BMW’s and the builders’ digital communities. After a thrilling five-month journey connecting fans online, the custom R nineT’s were unveiled at BMW’s annual bike meet and livestreamed for fans who could not attend.
Without any media spend, the campaign achieved the client’s goals. Despite being a new model - and in a category not associated with BMW! - the R nineT hit its sales target in record time and generated 200% of the media exposure targets, helping BMW outperform market growth rate by 15% and selling more bikes in 2014 than the market leader, Harley-Davidson.