BMW Canada joined forces with a real estate company that offers home-staging services in an effort to target-market vehicles to luxury shoppers in Toronto. The pilot project was successful enough that BMW is now considering expansion. Vehicles were put in the driveways of three premium real estate listings as part of Heaps Estrin’s home-staging process, which targets exclusive Toronto neighbourhoods with average listing prices of $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
Two factors drove the six-month initiative launched in May: A need to market an influx of high-priced new product for BMW, and a unique insight into when consumers tend to shop for new vehicles. “We’ve got a brand-new [SUV], the X7, along with a variety of other high-end vehicles that have come to market over the last 18 months,” Michael Oliver, spokesman for BMW Canada, told Automotive News Canada.
“We need to get awareness high in the market, and we need to talk to a potential customer that’s very difficult to reach with traditional media.”
The inspiration for this approach, Oliver said, came from an automotive research poll conducted by Google and Ipsos that shows 33 per cent of luxury automotive purchases are initiated at the same time those consumers move into a new home.
“[It] makes a ton of sense when you think about it, that ... a big life event, a promotion, an expansion of the family, something that triggers the move to a new neighbourhood, to a new house, to a bigger property would also come with requirements for different mobility needs,” Oliver said.
The initiative, which is the first of its kind in Canada, generated two different ways of reaching potential vehicle purchasers, according to Jeff Hilts, chief creative officer for BMW Canada’s agency of record, FCB Toronto.
“Essentially, we turned [each] online real estate listing into a BMW ad, getting the cars into the [image] carousels so that when people went onto those listings they could see the BMW in the driveways,” Hilts said. “That was the start of it, taking a known function and turning the image carousel into a new media channel.”
The other aspect is the ability to create neighbourhood-specific online advertising aimed at people who live near the staged home, subtly pointing out the vehicle on display.
“By knowing that you are a member of the neighbourhood or community, or at least viewing content on a website while at an IP address in that community, we’re able to serve up ads driving traffic to BMW.ca using the imagery of the staged driveways,” Oliver said. “It’s a geotargeting strategy specific to those neighbourhoods, with creative calling out the fact that there are vehicles on display in that neighbourhood.”
“The most meaningful and innovative activation in our minds was really that we turned each of the driveways into a showroom for our most valued audience,” Hilts added, “and [a] tough audience that we’ve had a difficult time reaching one-to-one.”
Manisha Dayaram, director of marketing for Heaps Estrin, said that reaction to the program from real estate agents and their clients has been positive.
“It was really a no-brainer because we felt that it tied very well into our lifestyle brand,” she said. “We do a lot of preparation in terms of making sure that the house is ready and beautiful, the windows are clean, there’s curb appeal, that the landscaping is done. Why wouldn’t you want to have a beautiful car in the driveway? It just makes perfect sense, especially from a luxury standpoint.”
Dayaram said that one of the successes of the program with their clients is that it provides a no-pressure advertising model.
“BMW was not standing in the driveway with business cards,” she said. “Someone could look at the car and [say], ‘I want to look into that further.’ But there was no pressure or obligation on anyone’s part to look at this as a sales pitch.”
At the conclusion of the pilot project, BMW Canada added 37,000 people to its prospect list.
“Based on this, our hope is that this now gets scaled to a much larger audience,” Hilts said.