BMW’s short film ‘The Escape’ is Branded Content At Its Finest

It’s been 15 years since BMW Films released their popular mini-film series ‘The Hire’. And now they’re back with another short film: ‘The Escape’.

The Escape is a 12-minute short film that’s directed by Neill Blomkamp (director of Elysium and District 9) and features superstars like Clive Owen and Dakota Fanning.

In a Fast and the Furious meets James Bond type of action-packed movie, The Escape keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very last second. And of course, BMW is at the center of it all.

It’s a cool film, but from a marketing perspective the question remains: why on earth would a car brand start producing their own films? Well, let’s take a look, shall we?

Branded Content Leads to Higher Recall

So why would a car brand start producing its own films? The answer is simple: branded content.


A few months ago a new study came out that shows that branded content leads to 59% better recall than any other type of digital ad. But that’s not all. Consumers are 14% more likely to look for additional content from a company after one single impression of branded content. Meaning: once people have had a taste of the brand, they’ll want more.

So research shows that branded content like that of BMW works. But still, is it worth the money?


Production cost of BMW Films

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the production costs of The Escape, but we do know that for The Hire, it cost $25 million to produce the seven films in the mini-series. That includes everything from acting and directing to camera work and special effects.

That might sound like a lot of money (and it is), but if you consider that Heineken paid $45 million to have their beer replace James Bond’s vodka Martini, then $25 million might not be such a bad bet.

But let’s be honest, in the end, it doesn’t really matter what the BMW Film series cost. What really matters is what it brought BMW.


The Success of BMW Films

We know that The Hire lead to 11 million website visits in the first year the films came out. In total, the videos racked up over one hundred million views on YouTube. But that’s not all. Because an ad can reach a lot of people but still not lead to an increase in sales (like Volkswagen’s Darth Vader ad). But The Hiresold. Really well.

The mini-series of The Hire lead BMW’s sales to grow 12% the year after the series began. And for the first time in history, over 200,000 cars were sold. By 2002, BMW sales were up to 17.2% percent while its competitors (like Volkswagen and GM) were struggling. BMW even managed to outsell top competitors like Mercedes.

Besides sales results, the series attained numerous ad industry and film awards, including a ‘Titanium Lion’ at Cannes International Festival; an award that recognizes advertising that “stops the industry in its track and reconsider the way forward.”



BMW Films’ The Escape came out very recently so there’s not that much we can say about its success. Yet. But if you consider that back in 2001, The Hireracked up about 11 million views in four months, well today, after only one week, The Escape has already been viewed 3 million times on YouTube.

So we’ll see what The Escape will mean for BMW. But until then, it beats the hell out of the standard look-at-how-this-car-drives-through-the-mountains type of car commercials. This film is a story that sticks.


Want to discover more brand stories like BMW’s? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter by leaving your email address in the box below!


Discover the world's greatest advertising

Free weekly updates via email.

Leave a Reply