Even marketing isn’t as one-dimensional a domain as some would like to believe – as proven by two very different promotional videos marketing two supposedly very similar products, albeit more than two decades apart.
Don’t be simply any person – be the person. By driving the car. The 8.
This largely sums up the essence of what the promo video for BMW’s all-new (for 2019) Achter is telling the viewer. Don’t drive anywhere – only LA and some salt river will do. Don’t live somewhere – a minimalist industrial chic loft will just about do. But only if your car can access it too. Then, and only then, are you smart, cool, cosmopolitan enough to understand that The 8 is just what you need in your life.
Go on then: Definite articleify your life! After all, even if you are in a position to spend more than €100.000 on a car, deep down you just know how mediocre you really are. How unexceptional. How some person, rather than the person.
Back in 1990, neither salt lakes nor lofts were required if one wanted to join in on the Achter lifestyle. A villa somewhere in the Italian countryside did the job. Achter ownership wasn’t a craving supposedly felt by ageing proto hipsters, but a middle-aged conductor. On top of that, neither a humorous tone, nor national stereotypes stood in the way of conveying The Premium Message.
Of course, none of this is accidental. Where the original Achter’s shape aimed for Rossini classicism (with a few concessions to late 1980’s tastes), The 8 is perfectly represented by the cold, digital, imposing oomph of the Hans Zimmer-like soundtrack. On top of that, the warm glow of the Tuscan (or possibly Sicilian) sun would be shred into scattered pieces of reflection by the 2019 car’s hectic, discordant surfaces. The pale, hazy light and quasi lunar surface of that salt lake suits its terminator chic far better than the romance of Italy in the summer.
It’s rather staggering to see in just how naive, how innocent a fashion the BMW 850i was presented, back in 1990. It was supposed to be an enticing ownership proposition to the discerning customer (like the gentleman conductor), suit his tastes and requirements. For that reason, its roadholding and comfort are depicted almost as subservient traits, while its visual appeal is measured against the backdrop of that most beautiful scenery.
Today’s Achter is very different. It requires the theoretical customer to prove he’s worthy of its cachet. The car doesn’t owe him anything, he owes the car everything: It is, seemingly, an utter reversal of dispositions. Such self-inflicted masochism, courtesy of a well-off clientele that supposedly has the world to its feet, is one of the more amusing side effects of today’s overabundance of luxury.
All things considered, the value of each promotional video lies in the fact that, like the automobiles they’re trying to sell, are a reflection of the times in which they were created. For better or worse.
Both video clips can be viewed on YouTube.
(Many thanks to B. A.)
The author of this piece runs his own motoring website, which you are welcome to visit at