BMW brings new UK marketing director on board as it makes bid for luxury car segment

BMW has hired a new UK marketing director as it prepares for the launch of the revamped 7 series, a model that will take it into the luxury car segment and competition with the Mercedes S Class for the first time.

Paul Ferraiolo will join the UK team from 1 August to head up its marketing. He has previously held a number of jobs at BMW including manager of product planning and strategy and president of BMW’ sister brand Rolls Royce.

He replaces Uwe Dreher, one of Marketing Week’s Vision 100 this year. He has gone back to BMW’s headquarters in Germany to lead global communications.

Ferraiolo’s appointment follows a busy year for BMW, which changed its main agency from WCRS to FCB Inferno a year ago. That decision was made, said BMW’s UK brand manager Nicola Green, to ensure BMW had a more integrated marketing strategy that combined more traditional formats with CRM and digital.

The two have produced a range of work so far, including ads to promote BMW’s hybrid electric sports car the i8 and its 3 series.

The bulk of the work this year, however, will focus around the revamped 7 series which is coming to market later this year. While BMW has produced the 7 series for almost 40 years, the model has been taken upmarket with its latest iteration into the luxury segment where it will compete with cars such as Mercedes S Class.

Green says the 7 series will look to take a “more modern” approach to luxury, focusing on design quality and innovation. The model includes features such as gesture control so drivers can turn the music volume up or change the track just by moving their hand in front of the dashboard and remote control parking.

The challenge now, she said, is how to get across that technology and design message in its advertising. Especially as the new 7 series is going after a slightly younger audience through its focus on technology, as well as the company CEOs and chauffeurs that have traditionally bought the car.

“The challenge is in how we put this across. It’s a new car but for a model that already exists. BMW is premium but the new 7 series is moving into luxury. It will be about how we do that and the different channels to redefine something people already think they know.

“For us we’ve got lots of technological messages to get out there. We have to work out how to do that so it engages, isn’t gimmicky and gets the message across.”

The success of the 7 series is so important to BMW because it is one of its “halo” cars. When a new model comes to market sales of its other model also typically experience an uplift as aspirational buyers who want one day to buy it instead buy one of BMW’s cheaper models.

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