BMW Films

Lots of creatives talk about thinking outside the box; here’s what happens when you turn the box inside out. In 2001, BMW was searching for a new way to get the word out about its kick-ass cars. But instead of just running commercials, its then-agency Fallon proposed creating five Hollywood-style minifeatures, helmed by real directors like John Woo and Guy Ritchie with known actors including Clive Owen, then airing them only online. More than 10 million people downloaded the 10-minute films, which were heart stopping and gritty enough to hold up at any multiplex. Plots varied, but the stars were the cars—which growled their way through more jumps and 180s than any TV spot would have allowed. The films didn’t feel like commercials— because they weren’t. Soon, branded entertainment became an industry buzzword, but no one ever topped BMW, which was first and did it best. —Robert Klara

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