Post September 11, with the STI plunging to new lows each day and news spreading of more uncertainties ahead, Performance Motors Limited, distributor for BMWs in Singapore, had an unenviable challenge ahead.

As much as Singaporeans are known for chasing the 5Cs, the affectionate term for things materialistic that begins with C (condos, cars, credit cards, cash and country clubs), buying a car, let alone a luxury high end car, proves almost unthinkable at times like that. And unlike any other Asian country, the car market in Singapore is uniquely unpredictable and more volatile due to the inherent flaws of the COE (certificate of entitlement) system, which had ranged from a low of S$1 to a high of S$110 000, for a piece of paper that entitles one to register a car!

With the entire market ground to a halt, the marketing folks at Performance Motors knew they had to do something to stimulate the sales force and the market.

“We could have adopted a wait and see approach. That option was particularly tempting when we found out just one week before our campaign, that one of competitor did a promotional drive and sold nothing! But we decided to bite the bullet and gave it a shot,” said Patrick Pow, General Manager of Sales and Marketing at Performance Motors Limited.


The tactical programme had two clear objectives.

First, to sell 100 units of BMW 318i each costing $135K, over 2 weekends.

Secondarily, to communicate the offer in a compelling way that does not dilute the core values of BMW.

Target audience

Mostly PMEBs driving upper end Japanese cars with intention to upgrade to a luxury car.

Campaign strategy

The communication task was particularly challenging as the offer was hardly unique or new. The overtrade offer was a simple mechanism of offering the buyer of the new BMW a certain sum above the market value of their current car. In this manner, a discount on the new car was avoided.

Given the gloom and doom mood of the market, the campaign had the extra hurdle of addressing the psychology and sentiments of the consumers first, before affecting brand choice.

The brutally simple thinking was to break free from the herd mentality, recognise and propagate the truth that even in tough times, there were people who aspire to driving a luxury car. For the optimistic, September 11 was a reminder to seize the day and not procrastinate.

For the prospective 3 Series owners making their first upgrade from their top end Japanese cars, it is a big step upwards. For most are not just buying “The Ultimate Driving Machine” but a badge of success and a recognition of their social standing.

This thinking was sowed first through an innovative teaser campaign, consisting of multiple consecutive small space ads in the local newspapers and a burst of radio.

The campaign later revealed the tactical offer through a full page black and white ad, followed by a full page colour. Ongoing radio ads and sustaining single page ads subsequently ran to ensure effective levels of exposure were achieved.


The level of cut through and awareness achieved resulted in incremental sales uptake, with Performance Motors surpassing their sales target by 70%. A truly remarkable and phenomenal achievement, against market norms.

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