May 14, 2019
German automaker BMW is reflecting on the global importance of family and community through a film campaign released to coincide with the Islamic celebration of Ramadan.
Shared by BMW Middle East, “Two Brothers” is a multigenerational story about family and forgiveness. While the setting is meant to connect with Muslim drivers, the campaign remains relatable for a wider reach.
“This is a pretty emotionally-charged commercial that BMW is likely hoping will tug at viewers’ heartstrings,” said David Undercoffler, editor in chief of Autolist, San Francisco. “It hinges on something that is relatable to any culture or group – family – and uses this common thread to send a message of unity and forgiveness in a world where the news can seem increasingly hostile.”
BMW was reached for comment.
The film begins with two young boys playing with toy cars in a classroom at the end of the day.
An older man, one of the boys’ fathers, steps inside to pick up his son, and the other boy rushes out of the room to meet his own father.
“Two Brothers” tells a multigenerational story coinciding with Ramadan
There is no dialogue in the short film, giving the story more universal appeal. The ad is set to a soulful song with English lyrics, which was specially composed for BMW Middle East and will be available to stream at a later date.
Onscreen text gives the viewers a hint of the film’s context. “Two brothers, a broken bond,” the text reads.
Despite the obvious friendship between the young cousins, the two brothers do not acknowledge each other as they approach their respective BMW cars.
Once at home, one of the brothers rummages through his bookcase until he finds a childhood photo album. The handwritten text in Arabic is one of the few indications of where the film is set.
As the man becomes emotional browsing his family pictures, his young son approaches him to offer comfort.
A knock at the front door interrupts the moment, and the boy stands to answer the door. The film first moves to his father’s face, showing his surprise before revealing that his brother and sister-in-law are at his home.
In a sign of affection, the men touch foreheads before embracing each other. The camera pans to show two BMWs — a vintage sedan and a contemporary SUV — in the driveway, and the young cousins going off to play together.
Multicultural campaigns can appeal to wide audiences. Image credit: BMW
“Forgiveness lights the way ahead,” a closing title reads as the film ends. “Ramadan Kareem.”
Ramadan Kareem roughly translates to “May Ramadan be generous to you.” Celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community for practicing Muslims.
The themes of community and reflection are especially evident in the film by BMW.
Middle Eastern marketing
The market in Middle East is becoming more of a priority for premium automakers, including BMW.
As of 2017 Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the two largest auto markets in the Gulf region. The Middle East has some of the highest sales of luxury cars per capita (see story).
Although not specifically targeted towards Middle Eastern drivers, a previous BMW campaign featured model Gigi Hadid (see story), who is of Palestinian descent.
More recently, Mercedes-Benz appealed to a new generation of Middle Eastern drivers with “My Chosen Family,” a female-centered film set in Dubai.
The short follows a young woman, influencer and visual artist Leena Al Ghouti, and her female friendships with the backdrop of a rapidly-changing culture (see story), while BMW’s Two Brothers takes a more traditional approach.
“Multicultural advertising campaigns are crucial for automakers because the demographics of car shoppers globally is shifting to include more emerging markets and markets that are outside the Western legacy regions like the U.S. and Europe,” Mr. Undercoffler said. “These areas have seen their buying power increase significantly and automakers are eager to grab their loyalties early.”