Luxury automaker BMW of North America plans to continue its much-lauded online film effort with a series of new releases later this year.
The initiative, launched last year by BMW with its agency Fallon Worldwide, saw the release of five short films on BMWfilms.com. The series, dubbed "The Hire" and starring Clive Owen in the title role, were directed by independent filmmaking sensations including Guy Ritchie and Ang Lee, with costs underwritten by the automaker.
Now, Owen will return when the campaign is revived in fall. Three releases are expected before year's end, produced again by Fallon and director David Fincher's Anonymous Content production house. Fincher, who directed "Panic Room" and "Fight Club," also will once more receive executive producer billing.
BMW went to great lengths to promote the films on its own, running 30-second television spots and ads in print and in movie theaters; it's expected that advertising for the series will continue.
The relaunch comes following wide acclaim for the films' successful initial run. Despite the financing -- which ran into the millions -- the automaker's formula was to give the filmmakers little in the way of creative constraint. The only caveat was that a BMW car was to appear in each film, though the directors were encouraged to do anything they wished with it.
As a result of the quality of the production, the big-name talent (Madonna, Mickey Rourke and other stars appeared in the series) and the buzz surrounding the campaign, BMW said Web users downloaded the first run of films more than 13 million times in all.
Most of those users additionally were likely to have been in BMW's target market. The film downloads were optimized for high-speed connections -- with some file sizes reaching 80 megs -- and broadband subscribers skew toward the affluent.
"'The Hire' was an unprecedented example of media convergence that both pushed and crossed boundaries," said Jim McDowell, vice president of marketing for BMW of North America. "We had no idea how successful it would be, since we were going into uncharted territory when we started the project. In the end, the project far exceeded any of our expectations, which is why we're so thrilled to be working on three more films for 'The Hire.'"
The campaign also took home a number of prestigious online awards, including top honors at the Clios and the One Show.
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