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July 23, 2008

BMW's "Shameful" Greek Used Car Ad

Greekusedbmwad Everybody on the women's blogging network is talking about the BMW ad pictured at the left. And all of them are offended by it.

Our friend Yvonne DeVita at is fuming, saying "This ad isn't just visually disturbing. The text is also poorly thought-out. It's for USED cars...and it says, "You know you're not the first." Clearly a sexual connotation meant to depict the young girl as...already having had sex, at least once. This, of course, makes her a sex object, for...the men looking at the ad? It's surely not for women." says the "sleazy sexual innuendo is marketing to men at its most lazy - not only alienating women who may have been potential BMW buyers, but riling so many women bloggers in the marketing field, and beyond, that it will surely become a negative blogging influence case study."

So I ask AskPatty readers the same question I ask myself and my children every time I see a new ad for the first time, before the object for sale is immediately obvious "What ARE they trying to sell here?"

The women bloggers have lots of conjecture about the message. Lots of angry words about the combination of sexual innuendo and automotive advertising. Lots more angry words about the inappropriate message implied in the tagline printed in rather small white type across the shoulder of a possibly inappropriately young girl. Lots of assumptions about what it is supposed to mean. Lots of condemnation of BMW for using such a message to sell its premier used cars. Words that include sexual abuse, pedophilia, and sexual predators.

So what is the message? "You know you're not the first." Most simply described "BMW premium used cars are so beautiful, it won't matter if you're not the first driver."

Is it effective? Well, as everybody in advertising knows, advertising is effective if it gets people talking about the product. Are we talking about the product? Hell yes, it's effective! Good or bad, this message is flying all over the blogosphere at broadband speeds while men and women look and comment. As copyranter says  "Sex and car advertising have of course been diddling each other for decades." And Tracy Clark-Flory at asks whether "Used women are like used cars?"

Is it appropriate? Unfortunately, perceiving this lovely young woman (or any woman, for that matter) as "used," is a very bad and offensive image in the United States. However, there has been no discussion of the fact that this is a GREEK ad, meant to sell premium used BMW cars to MEN in GREECE, where the age of sexual consent is 15 years old. Yeah, I checked it. According to Interpol:  "Age of consent for sexual activity: The legal age of consent for sexual activity is fifteen (15) years." Whispering: Did you know they allow nude sunbathing on the public beaches there? Some might also consider that offensive. I would simply like to remind "Different strokes for different folks."

My son is 15 years old, so I asked him to give me his assessment of the ad. First, he placed the girl's age between 16 and 20 years old -- and he sure should recognize the girl's age since he's closest to her demographic. (I don't want to think too much about it, but I'm pretty certain he's evaluated his fair share of girls between the age of 14 and 20.) Second, he said it was stupid. Clearly he's not the intended audience because he can't afford the car and he doesn't live in Greece. But it's also important to note that all these offended American women bloggers are also not the intended audience, since they are not Greek men either.

BMW has another advertisement starring a beautiful little girl here at YouTube:

Same theme, different presentation: "BMW's premium used cars are so beautiful, it won't matter if you're not the first driver." THIS is the ad Americans were intended to see, and is much more appropriate to its audience. It's also much more female friendly. We endorse this one.

Brandy_schaffels_s By Brandy Schaffels Editor

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