BMW has announced plans for a new Big Brother marketing initiative in the UK that will use interactive billboards to determine when a customer is around in one of its older cars and display targeted ads for the extended warranties.
The signs are said to use “vehicle recognition technology” which can trigger “highly personalized real-time content” when a “handpicked vehicle type is right within sight of the street screen”.
The move has sparked outrage from customers and automotive commentators who have raised concerns about the technology used.
Experts at Motoring Research website said the signs could be used to name and shame drivers, while others on social media said they could violate privacy laws.
BMW has announced plans to install interactive billboards across the UK that can tell when a three year old car is nearby, promoting the brand’s extended warranties – as seen here
The marketing ploy was worked out by BMW and Allianz Partner UK to increase sales with extended warranties.
The interactive billboards are located in London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Manchester.
They are installed at traffic lights on main roads and only display the information to the owners when the vehicle recognition technology (VDT) detects that the car is at a red light.
BMW says that when one of its cars pulls up for more than 35 months, the signs with “highly personalized real-time content” go into action that “only goes off when a hand-picked type of vehicle is directly within sight of the street screen”.
Some reports had suggested that the system could detect if an older BMW has an approved warranty and only show the ads to owners of those cars.
A BMW spokesperson told This is Money: ‘Vehicle detection technology is a proprietary technology from Ocean Outdoor that uses a mix of anonymized third-party data sources from the automotive industry to trigger content specific to the make or model of the vehicle being viewed the traffic light has stopped are more relevant.
“The VDT has no access to personal data, including the guarantee status.”
Drivers fear that the marketing tactic could be in breach of data protection regulations as it can be used to target advertisements to people in public spaces
Steve Cann, Insurance Manager at BMW Financial Services, announced the interactive billboards, saying, “Our customers expect a high level of customer service, and personalized digital marketing is just one way to connect with them at this expected level.
“Bespoke poster messaging is a unique way to connect with BMW owners outside of their homes who we hope will make a memorable impression.”
Liz Grindell, Head of Guarantee at Allianz Partners UK, added that the initiative “brings together digital marketing expertise and product innovation and is an exciting opportunity to reach potential customers at a time when physical interaction is limited.”
The German automaker says the poster system “does not store any personal driver or vehicle data,” although it can certainly be defined as Big Brother technology
The ads are used, although many owners of older BMWs may already have an approved extended warranty or similar products from specialist providers such as MotorEasy and Warrantywise – or have separate savings to cover car repair costs if needed.
The move has sparked outrage and anger among online drivers over concerns that the Big Brother-style signs would be an invasion of privacy if the billboards identified certain drivers who are known to have no guarantees.
One driver wrote: “The arrogance is breathtaking.”
Another said: “BMW has once again shown that they have a tremendous view of what the public wants and how they deserve to be treated. Someone really has to sit down by BMW, slap them, tell them they’re drunk and come back when it’s sober. ‘
One commenter added that the need for the billboards “somehow also implies that BMWs are so unreliable that they require a warranty”.
BMW reiterated that This is Money, the technician does not name the driver or display any information about their specific vehicle. The signs are only intended to display advertisements for approved BMW warranty products.
It’s the second time in a little over a month that BMW triggered an angry reaction from its customers on the Internet when drivers reacted angrily to a Twitter post from the German auto giant last month.
The brand sent a reply tweet to a YouTube comment about its new flagship electric SUV iX, which mocked the baby boomer generation with the term insult and ridicule: “OK, boomers” – despite people who were in from 1946 The “Baby Boomer” generation were born until 1964, making up around half of the automobile manufacturer’s existing customer base.
The respected German newspaper “Die Welt” not only received storm criticism on social media, but also picked up the sticks and said to its readers: “OK, Boomer. BMW, of all things, insults its best customers.”
Bad Taste: BMW was beaten up on social media for posting a response to a YouTube comment on its new flagship EV saying “OK, Boomer” that will offend some of the German brand’s biggest customer demographics
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