Case Study

BMW breaks down barriers to electric vehicle ownership through a branded awareness campaign

When most of us think of Israel, we picture a beautiful country filled with historic architecture and sandy beaches. One image that probably doesn’t come to mind right away is of electric vehicles (EVs) — but in reality, they’re appearing everywhere. Despite a slight dip in 2020, Israel is seeing explosive growth in EV purchases, with more and more models entering the market. For auto brands such as BMW, playing a key role in this revolution is what will help them stay ahead of the curve. "We know that change is on the way, and that we need to find innovative ways to lead it” says BMW Marketing Manager Alon Goldman.

As adoption spreads, the most significant barriers to further growth are the public’s low awareness of charging stations, and the resulting mistaken idea that EVs are less convenient than traditional cars.

Research shows that Israelis hesitate to buy electric vehicles for two main reasons: a perceived lack of charging stations, and concerns that they won’t be able to travel as far as they would with a traditional car.

Alon understood the importance of educating consumers to help place EVs in a more positive light: he wanted drivers to realize that finding a charging station is almost as easy as finding a fuel station.

The right idea at the right time

To reach his goals, Alon knew he needed to build a tight connection between the BMW brand and the EV revolution. He turned to his trusted advertising partner at Waze, collaborating to find a creative way to make Israelis more comfortable with owning these cars. When they realized how Waze could help drivers find charging stations — regardless of whether they had a fuel, hybrid, or electric engine — Alon immediately knew that they were onto something.

“The timing matched together almost perfectly to our EV strategy,” says Alon. “I loved the idea, the potential and the relevancy from the start.”

Alon had two main goals, as well as two audiences that he wanted to reach. For current EV drivers, BMW would provide an amazing utility, helping them quickly find and navigate to the closest charging station. Among non-EV drivers, Alon wanted to spread the word that EV charging is as readily available and easy to find.

Waze also appealed to Alon because the app is installed on more phones in Israel than there are cars on the road, making it a powerful platform for educating with a wide reach of drivers.

A campaign for all: drivers, partners, and BMW

Next, BMW partnered with an EV charging station provider, placing dozens of locations on the Waze map with BMW-branded Pins and promoted Searches. For drivers living in more affluent neighborhoods, BMW also displayed Takeovers, which are digital billboards that appear while the car is at a complete stop. Alon used the takeovers to announce the new utility, and to introduce BMW’s new EV/PHEV models to premium car drivers.

Alon wanted to show drivers that there was an abundance of charging stations, so they’d see how easy EV ownership could actually be. He also aimed to connect with the smaller audience of EV drivers at the moment when they were looking for charging stations. By focusing on these two groups, BMW hoped to strengthen its position as a leader within the Israeli EV market.

Since we’ve started using our branded Pins to mark EV charging stations on Waze, many other charging suppliers in Israel approached us asking to join this project. This is, among the rest - a good sign for me, as a marketing manager,  that we’re doing something right.
Alon Goldman, Marketing Manager, BMW

Successfully placing BMW and EVs on the map

Since the outset of this always-on campaign four months ago, BMW’s charging station partner has appeared in more than 270K sponsored searches, and BMW has navigated 1,230 drivers to its stations. That’s equivalent to a 137% rise in daily navigations. Now, the brand has partnered with two more charging station suppliers, with many others interested in joining the movement.

“The impact that we had in terms of PR was absolutely great,” says Alon, referring to a feature in a top Israeli publication that covered BMW’s innovative investment in driver education. “But most importantly, it’s amazing to see that we managed to reach the majority of Israel’s drivers and create a real change and an outstanding brand presence for BMW  in the EV eco-system. Over 90% of navigations to charging stations in Israel are performed via BMW’s sponsored charging stations.”

The reach of the campaign itself extended across more than 3.5M unique drivers with 58M impressions of branded ad units, prompting 27.5K interactions and thousands of navigations to BMW’s virtual charging network.

A brand lift survey also showed that users who were exposed to the campaign had 123% greater ad recall than the control group — results that are in the top quartile of the automotive benchmark for Israel.

BMW is now focusing on remarketing and diving deeper into the impact and potential of Takeover ads. “The insights from Waze allow us, among other things, to directly address drivers' pain points,” says Alon, adding that he plans to work with Waze as an always-on marketing strategy.

After promoting itself as a brand that values and cares for EV drivers, BMW will continue to drive thought leadership in the EV ecosystem, and keep spreading the word that the nearest charging station may be a lot closer than we think.

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The Goal

Raise awareness of the numerous charging stations in Israel, and position BMW as a leader in electric vehicles.

The Approach

Launch branded Pins and Search to display partner charging stations, and showed Takeovers to drivers more likely to purchase premium cars.

The Results

Reached over 3.5M unique users and drove 1,230 navigations to BMW-sponsored charging stations, capturing 91% of charging station searches.

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