Myriad creative experts have been offering brand advice reframed by the COVID-19 reality and by now we know the lessons well: Put other concerns above your brand or product, be genuine, show solidarity and give something back.
We've also heard that brand and agencies need to be creative and resourceful, doing more with less in a time when expensive production shoots have largely shut down in most markets.
Yet not many brands have been able wrap all these lessons together in a single strong piece of creative like BMW China has with its creative partner Juice Network Beijing.
In its narrated 'letter to the year 2020', you don't see any expensive film shoots. In fact, no film at all. It's merely a voiced-over slide show, allowing its powerful imagery and the words of Chinese singer and actor Jackson Yee to stand out even more.
The only brief film we see is in the final shot, which could easily be stock imagery of a cloud passing from the bright blue sky to match the campaign's tagline: "The blue sky and white clouds will arrive as promised.”
This is double-entendre, as ‘Blue Sky and White Clouds’ refers to BMW's nickname in China, while encapsulating its message of hope for better days.
Hope, in fact, is the brand's biggest gift in this work. Yes, we see passing reference to BMW's donation of supplies during the crisis, but it's not grandstanded like in so many brand press releases of late.
We also see a new BMW vehicle, which some might feel is in bad taste. How dare they show us the latest shiny new SUV, one might argue. But this is how the brand is being honest with us. Producing an ad where we don't see any product often leads to suspicion of a hidden agenda. Seeing the latest X3 in an open field (minus the hard sell) is the brand's way of saying, 'yes we're a car company, and we, just like you, can't wait until all this is over' and the grass is greener.
Given the film's popularity in China, it doesn't seem like others mind too much either. Released on WeChat, TikTok and Weibo, it garnered 200 million views in a day, clearly hitting a nerve.
It's hard to point to any work these days that feels completely right. To some extent, a brand like BMW has no business delivering a powerful ad like this. Luxury brands still remain the most out of touch these days and will continue to have the biggest challenge to stay relevant whenever this crisis may be over.
But here's a spot that has hit the right tone, relates to everyone and offers up hope. And it's not until we see and hear it that we realise just how welcome this message is right now.