Big-name directors help boost BMW site

BMWFilms.com has found an audience for its independent film series, a marketing experiment that uses marquee movie directors to indirectly hawk cars.

BMWFilms.com has found an audience for its independent film series, a marketing experiment that uses marquee movie directors to indirectly hawk cars.

Traffic to the site increased to 214,000 unique visitors for the week ending May 27, up 55 percent from the previous week's 138,000 unique visitors, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

Although the numbers are still far below the million mark, the site is not alone in its effort. Offline companies are increasingly using entertainment and games to promote their products online. Nike, Burger King, General Motors, ESPN, Pepsi, Nickelodeon and Paramount are among those lining up to create online games featuring their wares.

In the case of BMW, the company nabbed film director Guy Ritchie of Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels to direct a film about a driver--of a BMW, of course--and a rock star. The company also features directors Ang Lee, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and others.

"BMWFilms.com is a good example of the blurring lines between entertainment and advertising," Jarvis Mak, senior Internet analyst at NetRatings, said in a statement. "The site combines Hollywood's intense car chase scenes and Internet video to deliver a new spin on product showcasing."

Mak said that because the films are marketed online through streaming hubs and cable TV, the site is luring people who have high-speed connections. He added that because the majority of broadband surfers fall into the income brackets of US$75,000 and higher, BMW "zeroes in on their target market".

Nielsen/NetRatings also discovered that men comprised more than 68 percent of the site's audience, with 33 percent of the Web surfers falling into the 35 to 49 age range.

The Internet audience measurement service said that on average, people spent more than six minutes on the site.