BMW World Munich – are we in China?

BMW World

Last month while I was in Munich I visited the BMW World and BMW Museum. And I was in for a few surprises.

Upon arriving the BMW World in Munich I was surprised to hear a familiar language I’m well acquainted with. But it wasn’t my native German, nor English or French.

It was Mandarin Chinese.

BMW World was packed under the roof with Chinese tourists and their USD 3,000 SLR cameras taking photos of every car and motorbike from 300 different angles. All while posing in millions of different positions in front, on the side, at the back, on and inside of BMW cars and motorbikes.

Richard Hammond, one of Top Gear’s presenters, once mentioned that “you can stick a BMW badge on a dead cow and it will sell”. He has a point.

But I wasn’t at BMW World for the tourists. As a passionate motor cycler I wanted to see the bikes!

And bikes they had – all of them. The entire BMW Motorrad range. Seeing the bikes, the streets in Germany and the prices (40% cheaper compared to Hong Kong), I started to doubt my decision of living in Hong Kong…

BMW World is only one part though. Far more interesting is the BMW Museum on the other side of the road. The entrance fee isn’t cheap (8 Euros if I recall), but it’s worth it.

Even if you’re not into BMW as a brand, the visit is still worthwhile. You will encounter some classic cars such as the BMW 328 and the “Baroque Angel”, both produced in the 1930s and a financial disaster (way too expensive for the time).

Looking at those two cars, you become aware of what a big deal it was back then to be a car owner. Cars were just a luxury 90% of the population couldn’t afford.

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, BMW was known for motorbikes. I will cover the BMW motorbikes on my other blog which you can find here.

Fast-forward to the 1950s. The BMW Isetta arrived on the scene and was an instant hit. Nowadays, this kind of car would never obtain the necessary certificates for road use. It’s just a death-trap on four wheels. But I can’t help it, I fell in love with it. It’s just too cute.

BMW 1980s advertising

A small room inside the BMW Museum aroused my attention. It was about advertising over the last few decades.

If you want to understand society, just look at the advertisements. It tells you a lot.

Newspaper and magazine advertisements up to the 1980s were quite text heavy. One black/white photo is paired with an engineering essay describing why this car is the best.

Now look at an ad in 2013. One huge photo, two tag lines and the brand. That’s it. No one gives a rat’s arse about information. It’s BMW, dumbass! It’s gotta be good! It’s in our DNA. So why should we explain it to you?

The choice of using limited words isn’t surprising, considering the information overload we’re facing everyday. Honestly, no one will read an ad if it’s longer than two lines. But don’t we make it too easy for companies and advertisers? Shouldn’t we let them explain a bit more about their products?

Anyway, if you’re visiting Munich I recommend visiting BMW World and the BMW Museum across the street. It is really a great experience. Before you go, become a BMW Club member at your dealership. That will save you 50% of the entrance fee.

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