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BMW - No Woman's Answer to Transportation:
Please Leave the Dealership

Eyes_on_the_world_2 I'm fuming right now. Sabine Clappaert over at Muse, which is a great marketing to women site, sent me a link that has me boiling over!

BMW, it seems, respects women less than...Special K (read my thoughts on that here), and even less than Vogue - which caused such an uproar over Miley Cyrus's "provocative" photos.

Sabine says, "HELLO? Is there anyone home at BMW Marketing...? "

I want to know if the gals over at Ask Patty! have seen this? I want to know if the Mommy Bloggers have seen it or if any of the Daddy bloggers have seen it? I want to know if the whole world is numb to this kind of advertising now and if so...what's next?

The young girl in this ad (I refuse to reprint it here, sorry; you can see it at Muse) can't be more than 14. Even if she is older than 14, BMW certainly used her because she looks 14! And, I don't care that this is a foreign agency and that other parts of the world think girls as young as 10 are fair game in the sex-trade. I care about a car manufacturer that promotes its products in THIS country, actually looking at this ad and not being repulsed!

Where's the uproar? Why aren't we seeing the backlash on major media television? Why isn't Katie Couric reporting on this - she certainly covered Miley's Vogue shoot. (BTW, I disapproved of that, too...and I don't believe for a minute that Annie Liebovitz didn't know EXACTLY what she was doing - showcasing a young girl in a sexual pose; puh-lease!)

Why isn't Redbook, with all of its blogs, doing a story on this? Don't they care? Doesn't anyone care?Whoarethewomen

This ad isn't just visually disturbing. The text is also poorly thought-out. It's for USED cars...and it says, "You know you're not the first." Clearly a sexual connotation meant to depict the young girl as...already having had sex, at least once. This, of course, makes her a sex object, for...the men looking at the ad? It's surely not for women.

In a world where we are constantly on the lookout for predators on the net...targeting children, and yes, anyone under 18 is a child - and some 18-20 year olds are children,'s unconscionable for BMW to print this ad and promote lascivious thoughts just to sell used BMW cars!

There is no argument. It's just wrong! Even the comments on the BMW site are divided...with too many men (at least I think they're men) making the kind of lewd, insulting remarks you would expect...and which, if BMW meant to create, makes them a part of the problem...

Where, oh where, is the backlash? Let it begin here...


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Thank you so much for your future answers :D. Catriona.

Yvonne DiVita

Mark the Marketer - would that you are right. If so, why has BMW remained silent? Many have contacted Corporate for an accounting, with a mere 'standard reply' as an answer.

I would like to know that this ad was a mistake, from BMW. I would like to have my faith in this brand restored. Until I see a retraction from the top, they remain on my "do not buy" list.

Mark the Marketer

It seems that the ad is not really an ad, but one of a number of rejected ideas submitted by an agency or freelancer for BMW in Greece. The ad was not accepted and the BMW folks are not happy. It was released by its supposed creator on a website for creative called This link ( is to a German language site that notes the facts...sorry it's in German. Here is a rough translation of the important parts:

"…(t)he ad is listed with full details of the agency at…A short call to BMW, however, resolves things very quickly and it was confirmed…: This advertisement was not released and is not in print. It was one of many entries for a new campaign for used vehicles."

The image itself is a stock photo from Getty, not a model chosen and photographed for the specific ad.

Whoever leaked this at the agency is probably out of a job and I would bet that BMW is reconsidering its relationship with the agency in general. If it was a freelancer just showing off his skills using a brand he has no affiliation with...he could be in a lot of trouble.

BMW's fault is in not rapidly releasing something distancing itself. I wonder if BMW North America and BMW HQ in Germany even talk to each other from a marketing and PR perspective.

Regarding the post above about needing to spell out a car's winning attributes, etc. I disagree. I think (when done MUCH more tastefully than this of course), an ad for a car (or anything else for that matter) can say a lot with very few words, carefully written and with imagery that is both memorable and ties well to the brand.

Billy free Willy

It's funny and beautiful to look at. You old poor ladies have no humour at all. You think in complaining and complaining. You see men used by stars like destiny's child and that is okay.

The fact that you all approached means that you've been all used and that is your own fault(women are too naive or too bitter).
Instead to complaining to the world, it's more useful complaining to yourself!

Tom Collins

Hi all,

I'm late to the party, but Yvonne doesn't let me out from behind the curtain here at WME much. ;-)

Anyway, as a male of the species, the ad insults most of my brain -- the idea that a car ad that provides abosolutely no information about the car would interest me in buying a car is just plain stupid. It might interest me, but not in buying a car.

Which leads me to the point, as a Dad and a human being, I'm not interested in being "interested" by this sort of kiddie porn. The idea that we should look the other way because it's "okay" in some other country or culture doesn't work with child prostitution in Asia, rape and murder of women in Bosnia, or other examples along the same moral spectrum, and IMHO shouldn't work here.

Okay, I'll lighten up now and get back to the geeky stuff.


Kevin Burke

This ad is pure stupidity. It has managed to offend women and hurt their brand image. Hello, the world is flat. And as the father of a daughter I find it just as offense. So BMW, you hurt your brand with dads too. Good luck with the pedophile market segment.

Yvonne DiVita

I see this is getting a fair amount of traction across the net. Andrea Learned wrote about it (, and at Servant of Chaos ( )as well as a number of others, calling BMW out. Rightly so.

To those who maintain that this is for a foreign mindset (Greeks, apparently, set the age of consent at 15)... you are so off-base, it's not funny. Selling anything by using a provocative image of a child, made to look at sexy as possible, with a tagline like, "You know you're not the first", is unacceptable. It should be unacceptable regardless of where it's made.

Tasteless advertising like this - bordering on kiddie-porn - should make all Moms and Dads outraged, the world over. It was put on the web for a reason - to generate eyeballs and appeal to young men who cannot even afford BMWs or dirty old men who should be ashamed of oogling someone who could be their granddaughter.

The comments on the ad-site say it all; this is prurient advertising - best left for the cutting room floor.

Natalie MacNeil

You can sign a petition against this degrading and sexist ad by visiting or by going to the following link:

Thank you Yvonne and everyone else who has taken time to speak out against this ad.

Anita Campbell

At the risk of sounding jaded, I'm not shocked by the ad.

Suggestive it certainly is. Lacking in taste it clearly is. And it's offensive to women and sexist to boot.

But heck, that describes a lot of the stuff I see on TV, movies and magazines. I've gotten inured to it -- it would take a lot more these days to shock me.

Especially with BMW. BMW has a history of pushing the envelope with provocative ads. A few years ago there was an ad trial-ballooned on the Internet that was close to a soft porn mini-film called "Respect" for a new BMW motorcycle. Yvonne, you may recall that one of your authors, John Wyckoff, wrote an article on my site roundly lambasting that film/advertisement. That ad managed to be offensive to both women AND Muslims.

This ad is clearly not my cup of tea, and as a former BMW owner makes me not want to ever buy one again if that's the company attitude vis-a-vis women

But shocked? Chalk it up to the sad state of current popular culture ... but I'm not.

Maggie DiVita

Even if the "woman" (most likely girl) in the ad was of age, it was still in poor taste. "You know you're not the first." How demeaning towards women (again, read girls) can you get? Blech, that's all I can say.

Gross BMW, gross.

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