Rampenfest BMW Campaign is Brilliant, says Me

It’s become vogue to poke sticks at large brands that enter viral video with all of the grace of a drunk homeless man stumbling into the women’s room at an upscale country club.


Says Wagner James Au of NewTeeVee, “Viral videos from giant corporations are a bit like a middle-aged vinyl salesman with a comb-over unsuccessfully trying to pick up 20-something babes at the club — then angrily denying that he’s embarrassed himself, even as they scatter.”

I love my NewTeeVee — especially when Craig Rubens said yesterday that “an online video buffoon like Naltscan score higher [on TubeMogul’s popularity list] than CBS confirms that the playing field has been significantly leveled.” And I too have been guilty of mocking the age-old clueless nature of large advertising agencies and their brand victims (or is it the other way around)?

That said, I think Rampenfest is Brilliant. And I’d like to counterpoint Wagner James Au’s criticism, and his calling it “murketing” (see previous post).

What is Rampenfest, you might ask? (that’s my sarcastic homage to every third-grade speaker or moronic blogger who starts an explanation with a “you might ask” question). Rampenfest is a wonderfully self-depricating mock short film about a German town that erects a giant ramp to shoot a Beamer over the Atlantic. Oh, hell, I can’t explain it. Go see it yourself right now. I’m serious. Get the hell off this blog and go watch it. It’s entirely too long for online-video and I wish they’d have “chunked” the film or at least given us a player that allowed for easy skipping. You may want to just download Rampenfest for the iPod.

rampenfest-guyI’m big on transparency (if you’re an ad, I’ll despise you less if you are self aware enough to admit it). But I totally forgive BMW and its agency, GSD&M Idea City, for NOT telling me the campaign was funded by BMW. It didn’t need to. It clearly was a well-funded parody, and if BWM didn’t pay for it, who else? If BMW had disclaimed its part for the benefit of the 4% of morons who believed it was a Sundance entry, it would have just sucked the humor RIGHT out of the experience for the rest of us. I’ve savored each moment of Rampenfest like a Spinal Tap Sequel (Even the WSJ’s boring NPR-like report likens Rampenfest to Spinal Tap and Waiting for Godot).

“What makes it so brilliant, and how did they pull this off without consulting Nalts?” you might ask. Well here’s my 5 points, because you’re too stupid to read and remember more.

  1. It’s well shot, conceived and directed. Is it on strategy? Faithful to the creative brief? Supportive of positioning? I can’t answer those questions, but asking them makes me look like a smart marketer.
  2. Mockumetaries, like improv comedy, require exceptional acting. For the most part, the cast pulled it off. The only thing more painful than a bad improv comic is one that attempts mockumentary and delivered like he’s reading a script verbatim. I didn’t see much of this.
  3. There were times during this short film where I suspended belief and soaked in the characters.
  4. BMW stood by a vital tenant to permission marketing in a social-media world (hi, Seth Godin- love your stuff) where we control our advertising consumption. It entertained us while plugging the car in a gentle way.
  5. I may not have walked away able to list 7 features, attributes and benefits of BMW (and for that matter I still can’t remember the difference between features and benefits), but the company occupies a new place in my second-favorite organ (the brain) as a humorous, personable and approachable friend and not the arrogant German dickhead it once was.

P.S. I’ve got no connection with BMW or the agency. In fact I’m the guy that was deeply annoyed when my cousin flashed her Beamer lights at oncoming BMWs because it felt like

12 Replies to “Rampenfest BMW Campaign is Brilliant, says Me”

  1. beautifully filmed and that’s about it for me. I thought the actors were pretty good, low key wise and they convinced me they were Bavarian, but the teeth let you know it was a joke throughout. What was missing, what I needed to suspend believe was a real passion for the idea from one person, someone who could come up with such an extravagance, a character I really believed in. So for me the joke went on too long. Then again, I never thought much of Spinal Tap; a film that was way too long. I suppose this is brilliant from a marketing POV, nice budget coupled with a quirky idea. However, I admit that I’m silently giggling at the concept: a red BMW flung across land and water to the US via a giant Ramp. When I think about how they came up with that concept and I have to wonder, were they high?

  2. OBERPFAFFELBACHEN = People of the Huge Incisors or Home town of the Osmonds.

    Beemer people sound a lot like Harley people. Harley people use the ‘low salute’.

  3. rampenfest IS brilliant, too bad it’s also quite boring.

    maybe it’s just the high expectation bmw have set for themselves online over the years…

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