BMW Films was an initiative spearheaded by Fallon, the luxury auto manufacturer’s agency of record, that effectively put the term ‘branded content’ on the map.
Beat The Devil Trailer
BMW and Fallon approached RSA to launch the dark action/comedy series of the ilk that only Tony Scott could create. The three part series starred Don Cheadle, F. Murray Abraham, James Brown, Gary Oldman, Clive Owen, Danny Trejo, Ray Liotta and Dennis Haysbert among others, and included four “Subplot Movies” that furthered the plot and incorporated an alternate reality game for avid fans.
Hostage, directed by John Woo, was the first episode. The FBI enlists the Driver in an attempt to remedy a hostage situation gone awry. As more information about the kidnapper and the victim are revealed, the situation proves to be ever-more complex.
In episode two, Ticker (directed by Joe Carnahan), dangerous stakes are at play, as the Driver and his wounded passenger come under gunfire from a helicopter overhead. The helicopter shoots at a briefcase as it begins to countdown. What’s in the briefcase and who is this mysterious passenger? All is revealed in Ticker, featuring the BMW Z4 3.0i.
Beat the Devil
Directed by: Tony Scott
James Brown plays himself in Beat the Devil. The soul legend made a deal at the dawn of his fame to trade his soul for his career. Considering his status now, he hires the Driver to renegotiate said deal, offering a new wager instead that takes the Driver to the Las Vegas strip for some action/adventure.
BMW Films kicked off with a premiere party co-hosted with Vanity Fair (to benefit the homeless) at the Arclight Hollywood a week before the online launch, which was then followed by its telecast premiere on DirecTV. The films were so successful that DirecTV rethought its advertising strategy to incorporate other companies’ ads on their vacant channels.
The series is often referred to as a pioneer in the industry and was lauded on trade publications and beyond, sparking headlines to this day that read “How Brands Can Still Learn from BMW Films.”
The series serves as an example of the growth of brand affinity through strong story and expert filmmaking.