No, by BMW Jason 09 May 2006

54 comments Latest by Dieter Rosabal


From a two page BMW ad spread in Automobile Magazine:

“The ability to say no to compromise is a rare thing these days. Many companies would like to be able to say it, but so few have the autonomy to actually do it. As an independent company, BMW can say no. No, we will not compromise our ideas. No, we will not do it the way everyone else does it. No, we will not factor designs down to the lowest common denominator. No, we will not sell out to a parent company who will meddle in our affairs and ask us to subject our cars to mass market vanilla-ism.

“Because we can say no to compromise we can say yes to other things — such as building our vehicles with 50/50 weight distribution for superior handling and control, despite the fact that it costs more to build them that way. It’s thousands of little things like this that separate BMW from other car companies. By maintaining our autonomy and ability to say no, we can make sure great ideas live on to become ultimate driving machines.”

54 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Tom 09 May 06

I truly love BMW. I own a BMW (2005 330 Sedan).

However, I’m still unhappy with the new design change.

Just my 2 cents

Menno van Slooten 09 May 06

No, we will not sell out to a parent company who will meddle in our affairs and ask us to subject our cars to mass market vanilla-ism.

That’s an interesting thing to say if you are such a parent company. (BMW owns Rolls-Royce, Mini and Rover)

Tom 09 May 06

Let me clarify, the current design.

anonymous 09 May 06

i’m happy to just say no to owning a BMW. How many friends do you have that KNOW their mechanic’s first names because they’re there so often. I have 2. Both of which have BMW 3 series. Don’t get me wrong…the higher end beemers are nice.

matt 09 May 06

i thought rover was owned by ford. (according to

Tom 09 May 06

Ford own “Land Rover”, BMW use to own “Rover” (the brand). Very confusing. Multiple car companies owning the essentially the same vechicle.

Looks like the Redesign mess in 2000 made it to Wikipedia.

Mike G 09 May 06

Since we’re talking about BMW. Have you seen the new 3-Series? I think they finally nailed the design. Flawless IMO

I’ll take a few more trips to the mechanic to wake up and look at that thing in my driveway everyday :)

Greg B 09 May 06

Mike G - Wait until you drive one. It’s a step up from the previous model all around. In fact, I’m in process of buying a 325i sport w/ the 6 speed.

matt 09 May 06

“I�ll take a few more trips to the mechanic to wake up and look at that thing in my driveway everyday :)”

-why? seriously i always wonder why people do things like that. i don’t see how / why “pretty” design should trump reliability. Good design should enable the other pieces of good architecture: functionality, usability, reliability, and scalability.

Sam 09 May 06

Good design should enable the other pieces of good architecture you’re thinking like a web designer. think like a car owner.

matt 09 May 06

“you�re thinking like a web designer. think like a car owner.”

not really…thinking like a systems guy. For example:

Good design on aerodynamics should reduce drag, increasing performance (speed) and performance (fuel efficiency).
Good design on instrumentation should increase usability of said instrumentation (make it easy to read gauges at night or in glare for example).
Good design on an engine should allow for that engine to withstand bursts of exceptional usage and long-term duration of standard usage (if someone told me an engine on a modern car had to be replaced after say 20k miles you’d laugh at them).

How is that not thinking like a car owner?

Suthers 09 May 06

@Sam, matt — It’s all relative - I know rather have a BMW over my tiny Ford Fiesta which works, for a couple of trips to the garage a year.

I wonder if BMW have been reading SvN and saw ;)

RonZ 09 May 06

Should cars be scalable?

BMW’s reliability may be a little lower than, say, Honda, but it’s design (both on the outside and the inside - technology, engineering, etc) exceeds Honda. It provides a fantastic experience.

Maybe “good architecture” is a pie chart, and you add up enough of the right things and you get the full pie. Different people may choose to put different amounts of certain components into the pie. Some people like blueberry, some people like peach. Different pies for different people. But a blueberry pie is not inherently better or worse than a peach pie.

(although I am biased, so a BMW is inherently better than just about any other car…)

Excuse my rambling.

matt 09 May 06

“I don�t think it�s true that you can separate �prettyness� from functionality.”

Sorry..I wasn’t arguing that it is separate. I believe there is usually some cause and effect. Even something that appears cosmetic can affect functionality or usability. Two simple examples:

1) The wood said cello is made out of has an effect on the sound. A spruce or maple (somewhat typical) would produce a very different resonance than one made of bamboo…which would probably sound …quite poor.

2) A paint job on a car might appear entirely cosmetic. In reality it has an effect on the day to day maintenance required (dirt / dust tends to show up very easily on white / black / yellow cars…not as much on certain greens / browns, etc.).

Zach 09 May 06

The only thing they can’t say “No” to? Building pieces of shite:

Mike Doan 09 May 06

i�m happy to just say no to owning a BMW. How many friends do you have that KNOW their mechanic�s first names because they�re there so often.

I own a 2006 530i, an yes, I know my service advisor’s first and last name. But, that’s because the customer service is amazing and he’s assigned to help me with my car.

Will 09 May 06

I owned a 3 series for 7 years and only ever had one major mechanical problem with it, which was my fault because I accidentally redlined the engine and blew an impeller in the cooling system. When I traded the car in a month ago for a new Audi, it had over 100,000 miles on it and still ran as well as the day I got it.

I love these myths about the terrible reliability of German cars.

t.i. 09 May 06

My low end ‘95 318ti has never gone into the shop for something outside of routine maintenance. My only complaint is the how much it costs to get the brakes done… ouch.

10 years of ownership, 130k miles, no problems.

meigh 09 May 06

as seth godin says, BMW has marketers. they’re called the engineering department.

reid 09 May 06

Does anyone really believe that BMW doesn’t have a dedicated marketing department? Of course they do, and they focus on appealling to our emotions. In this day and age, who doesn’t want the ability to say “no” and not suffer the consequences? The BMW “No” ad is just attaching itself to that vibe in hope of getting you—yes, you!—to part with some of your hard earned cash. The “No” ad is cool, but it’s not reality. It’s marketing.

Lars Fischer 09 May 06

BMW is on my personal ‘black list’. This means that it doesn’t matter what cars they produce or what the cost is. If once owned a (new) BMW and the quality was a complete disaster. In three and a half years I went about 35 times to repair this peace of shit.

But even worse was the attitude of this company. They just didn’t care and told me that I’m free to buy another brand - which I did and will always do. We all make mistakes but it does matter how you treat your customers. So I just say NO to BMW!

I drove BMW and Audi but now I own two Mercedes and it’s the first time I’m completely satisfied with a car brand (though the prices are too high).

Jason G 09 May 06

My parents owned a 1992 325i and they sold it this year with just over 110k miles on it.

The car never needed excessive maintenance and it still drives like it did when they bought it (used, in the mid 90s).

mariachi 09 May 06

I’ve owned a 323i for 5 years - replaced one caliper and a fuel pump, and neither were very expensive and routinely fail on any car. do what you like, but don’t believe all the haters… BMW makes a solid car.

Alex R 09 May 06

I feel so poor

john 09 May 06

I asked a BMW mechanic what he thought of BMW’s, his response….

“BMW’s are like super models, gorgeous to look at but no brains.”

Don Schenck 09 May 06

I drove a BMW in high school … back in 1976. A BMW 2002. Fantastic automobile.

But now? “No” way. I “know” it costs too much, I “know” it’s not dependable, and I “know” it costs too much to repair.

At least BMW’s aren’t God-awful ugly like those “other” German cars … you know … the one’s with the grill that looks like a giant horse collar.

Oh … wait … do I mean VW or Audi?? D’oh!


Jack Yan 09 May 06

Tom, BMW still owns the Rover trademark; when Rover was sold, BMW held on to a lot of the intellectual property. As to the ad, I would have liked to have seen a couple more positives for BMW in the second half, though I admit it would have brought the two columns� sizes out of kilter.

street 09 May 06

heh, as someone who in the past turned a few wrenches and once even worked for a bmw dealer let me say this..

I can’t imagine any more pointless advice than asking someone, anyone about the reliability of cars. There is probably no other consumer product that is more carefully studied and monitored than automobiles; and there are numerous organizations, public and private, that report on reliability. Getting a ‘professional’ opinion here is like asking Bill O’Reilly how to vote. And John, how many mechanics do you know that can actually afford a new BMW?

mike 09 May 06

“mass market vanilla-ism”

I just love that line.

jm 09 May 06

The engineering philosophy behind the roundel is the reason BMW holds onto it’s most loyal customers. Both a 330 and an X3 have made a fanatic out of me to the same degree I hold onto my Apple products. Any attempt to quantify bimmer ownership in terms of price, quality, or at-the-moment styling is misguided at best. Aside from listing the makes I’ve owned over the years, including an Audi, Jason, the BMWs have the most honest connection to the driver. In short, they have soul.

jm 09 May 06

Hmm. “its most loyal” Curse writing outside a text editor.

kmilden 09 May 06

Amazing ad.

street 10 May 06

Products have Soul?

Just keep whispering that to yourself… I’m sure everything will be alright.

Mike 10 May 06

Chaz makes a great point, the move by BMW in their PR away from emphasizing quality to design.

I am not in the salary range to afford a luxury sedan. If I was, I would take a long hard look towards Lexus or Infiniti. There seems to be a lot of passion in this post from BMW owners (and a lot of mixed experiences) but if I’m going to spend $50k for a car, I demand to not know my auto mechanic’s name.

Don Schenck 10 May 06

You haven’t driven a BMW until you’ve driven the 2002. The 1972 model I drove in high school was amazing. You talk about “being connected” to the car … you have no idea.

The only thing that comes close, in my 30+ years of driving, is my MR2 Spyder.

Don Schenck 10 May 06

By the way, I DO LOVE the “No” ad. Very good stuff.

And I still think BMW’s are great cars to drive.

Stefan Rudersdorf 10 May 06

different countries - different communication… seems like making “just say no” a philosophy and communicating it with an ad campaign seems only to be possible in America. It will take its time unless this wave swashes over to Germany. I can�t remember even one big player having the balls to do so over here, althoug we drive the same BMW models etc. Simplicity is just not a selling point. It�s even worse regarding software. Many decision makers suffer from “featuritis” - I sometimes think they mistrust simple solutions. Pretty hard to convince them…

Anonymous Coward 10 May 06

@street, And John, how many mechanics do you know that can actually afford a new BMW?

He’s the only mechanic I know on a personal level, and his wife drives a Mercedes S-class. But I imagine most couldn’t.

Mike Johnston 10 May 06

I love the concept of “NO” and always have. I was recently recommended a book called, “Getting to Yes”. Though I purchased it because it was recommended, the entire concept of the word turned me off. I still have not finished it. Great Ad!

Jemaleddin 13 May 06

One of the more interesting press releases I’ve read (I know, I know, but Jalopnik linked to it) said that the big three german automakers, faced with competition from Japan in the luxury market and declining reliability were finally going to do something about the situation: stop criticizing each other in the press.


BMW owners can talk all they want about the one or two cars that they owned that didn’t break down on them, but anecdotal evidence is a contradiction in terms. We don’t care about your car because your car is statistically meaningless.

The numbers are pretty clear here: if you don’t mind paying more up front, more for repairs and losing more of your initial investment in the resale value, buy yourself an Audi, Mercedes or BMW. (Buy it certified pre-owned if you don’t want to lose 20% when you drive it off the lot.) They’re A LOT of fun to drive, they look cool, and they have lots of great creature features.

But sign up for AAA and get a credit card that you keep paid down to put the repair costs on.

tobto 15 May 06

man, the company says NO as design move - not exactly you’ve got ;)

tobto 15 May 06

man, the company says NO as design move - not exactly you’ve got ;)

lover 15 May 06

really nice ad.

sylvia 15 May 06

I wonder if it is this is new wave advertising.

sw 15 May 06

I wonder if this is the current �new wave� advertising.

TOM 15 May 06

Well, could be?

Good Q.

el duderino 10 Jun 06

I’m actually doing an apprenticeship with BMW… I’m not saying all BMW’s are perfect, but their design, innovation, build quality and technological advancement cannont be argued. When you’re pushing the envelope of design, reliability will be compromised to a degree, as we often see in formula one.

Considering how advanced the components and on-board systems are I think they’ve done astonishingly well, and is a testiment to their engineers. I ought to know because I’m the person who deals with you and maintains and repairs your car. They are a much, much better vehicle than some thoughtless comments have said. We pride ourselves on leading the way, not following others actions.

Andy Polaine 13 Jun 06

Most of the conversation here has revolved around the validity of BMW’s claims and the cars themselves - so in some respects the ads must be working. I’m sure BMW are at least happy it’s getting so much play in the blogging world (can someone come up with a better word than blogosphere for me to use?)

But I’m surprised not more has been discussed about the nature of the campaign itself and the, in my opinion rather weak, Say No ‘community’. If BMW are trying to appeal to a young, designer, hip audience the community site seems to be just that slight bit off the mark to make it seem like it’s your Dad dancing to Kylie and thinking he’s ‘hip and cool’.

BMWs aren’t for rebels or for people who say No! New ones are for those with deep pockets (or deep debt) and are up their with Audis, Saabs and Mercs as the car of choice for lawyers, doctors and dentists.

Yet, BMW have legions of die-hard fans, particularly in their second-hand market (which might be seen as testament to build-quality) It would have been smart to plug into that rather than pretending to be rebellious. I think they took a better route when sponsoring quality content (a la BMW films) and they could have gone this route with their community/viral/whatever campaign and actually offered something useful, well-designed and well-made to reflect their brand. Imagine something that the 37Signals folk might have made, but paid for by BMW to make it completely free.

thebmlife 09 Aug 06

All I have to say is, just look in the auto trader or any marketplace for used cars, go to the bmw section, narrow your search what have you. If the mileage is listed, read it. You will see not only more bmw’s from the 80’s being sold (still running) but from the early mid 90’s with over 200k on them, ad reading: runs excellent, smogged with over 200k. How many hondas or toyotas are still on the road? Any 1984 camry’s or accords around? Why? I see E30 (1984-1991,93 convertible) 3 series still on the road like they are the current model. It is not uncommon to see all the body styles in 1 parking lot, somehow all parked next to each other.

Dieter Rosabal 31 Aug 06

BMW’s are nice cars, I wish i could
have money to own an 2006 M3 for years
and then tell you how good they are.
I can recognize the smell of the leather
from far and the red gauges at night
just to impress a hot chick and take
her to dinner.