Celebrating BMW Films 20 Year Anniversary

Live on Zoom - Monday, April 26th at 12:00PM PST


On April 26, 2001, the first BMW Film premiered on BMW’s website. The Ambush, directed by John Frankenheimer, was followed 2 weeks later by Ang Lee’s Chosen. Six more short films would follow, all directed by highly accomplished and awarded Hollywood directors and featuring top talent, including Clive Owen, Madonna, Gary Oldman, James Brown, Don Cheadle and many more. Scott Donaton, in his 2004 book Madison and Vine, put it this way:

“In the nascent Madison & Vine space, few initiatives have captured people’s imaginations the way the BMW Films series has. It quickly became the model for advertising as entertainment, a prototype for a new form of advertising, and a case study in what can happen when one company has the nerve to challenge conventional wisdom, ignore the rules, and create a new business model.”

BMW, under the leadership of Jim McDowell, took a wild swing that connected in a way that no one ever expected. In 2002, most people were accessing the internet on aggravatingly slow dial-up connections, often requiring hours to download a 10-minute film, yet millions did. BMW had hoped that 2 million people might download the films, but a stunning 13 million downloads of the first 8-film series happened in 2002, setting the internet ablaze and BMW sales soaring!

To celebrate the BMW Films 20 Year Anniversary, we are (virtually) bringing together the creative team at Fallon who dreamed it all up. The team will be joined by Jim McDowell, Head of U.S. Advertising for BMW, who controlled the purse strings in 2001/2002 and green-lit the films, placing his career on the line. Hosting the conversation is the advertising journalist of the day, Scott Donaton, Editor and Publisher of Advertising Age and author of the 2004 book, Madison & Vine.


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