The BMW film series, The Hire was a series of eight short films (averaging about ten minutes each) produced for the Internet in 2001 and 2002. A form of branded content, all eight films featured popular filmmakers from across the globe (including John Woo 吳宇森, Wong Kar-Wai 王家衛, Ang Lee 李安), starred Clive Owen as the « Driver », and highlighted the performance aspects of various BMW automobiles.
The series was stopped in 2005 due to rising costs, and the episodes were pulled from the BMW website. Luckily, The Hire lives on through the Internet, and it’s even more impressive when you consider that it was made in 2001, long before lavish short films and webisodes were popping up around cyberspace.
The Hire revolutionized how products could be branded online. Instead of forcing people to watch commercials along and during TV break, now over 100 million viewers thrilled to the exploits of The Driver (Clive Owen) in each of the eight web episodes. Time Magazine reviewed them alongside feature films, and BMW sales were boosted 12 percent within the first year.
(This is a perfect case study of marketing/branding through idea/impression-forming, which even transcends previous commercials models of product placement.)
Among the eight episodes of the Hire, « the Ticker » and « the Hostage », which are posted here, are my personal favorite. You can learn more about BMW’s The Hire on Wikipedia and a good review, from both of which the paragraphs of this article are drawn and edited.
- The Hire, 8 short films for BMW (productplacementandmovies.wordpress.com)
- A Look Back At BMW’s The Hire, Branded Content In The Dark Days Of Online Video (reelseo.com)