BMW’s “Opportunity Knocks” Ad: Women Are Pretty Much Just Money, Really
BMW has begun airing a new advertisement, entitled “Opportunity Knocks,” during NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The ad stars model Brooklyn Decker and encourages potential BMW 3 Series Sedan buyers not to let a good thing pass them by. Of course, given that I’m writing this particular blog, chances are pretty good that I’ve found something I don’t like about the ad (spoilers: I have).
For those of you who cannot be bothered to watch a 30 second spot, here are words that you can read about it instead: the “Opportunity Knocks” ad begins with a fella admiring the 3 Series Sedan and a dealership associate asking if he’s ready to take the plunge. The very question sends the commercial’s protagonist back into his youth, where he recalls breaking off a relationship with a somewhat homely looking girl. Flash-forward a number of years, and we discover that his former flame has grown up to become the lovely Brooklyn Decker. Oh, snap! You totally got hosed, brah!
“’Opportunity Knocks’ is a playful example of BMW’s focus on story driven creative,” said Trudy Hardy, Vice President, Marketing, BMW of North America, in the automaker’s press release. “Unlike the young man in the commercial who broke up with Brooklyn Decker, we want consumers to make the right choice the first time, especially when selecting their next vehicle.”
The bit with Brooklyn Decker is followed by the man refusing to invest in Twitter because he “doesn’t get it,” only to find himself standing sheepishly next to his wealthy friend on his yacht. He has to eat humble pie while his yuppie friend reminds him just how huge his yacht is. Man, I would hate to have no choice but to be really bitter about my friend having better foresight about investment opportunities and then have no choice but to hang out on his yacht and drink champagne. That would be really awful.
In the end, these missed opportunities are what convince the man to hurry right up and buy his $33,000 luxury sedan. Clearly, he’s made a lot of mistakes in life in order to comfortably afford such a vehicle. He certainly has all of our sympathies.
After all of this, here’s the thing I take away from the “Opportunity Knocks” ad right away: BMW is ostensibly saying that the woman you date is an opportunity, a status symbol, social currency, but not a person.
Here’s your message: had our hero chosen the road less traveled, he’d be raking in money and living it up on a yacht (and probably driving a BMW, no less). If he had waited out his “nerdy high-school girlfriend’s” more awkward years, he might be dating a famous model. Oh, I get it, because women are like some kind of capital with which you buy your way into high society, right? Just like being a venture capitalist and driving a luxury car: beautiful women are currency that exist solely to create opportunities for men. Makes perfect sense to me!
I could just be overanalyzing the “Opportunity Knocks” ad (as I am wont to overanalyze things). After all, Brooklyn Decker her-own-damn-self seemed to like the commercial:
“I was drawn to this BMW ad because of the humor. I was determined to play myself as a nerdy teenager – down to the braces and not so trendy clothes – just like I was in high school,” she told BMW. “I loved being able to put some of my personality into the ad and I’m thrilled to have been a part of this project with BMW.”
So Brooklyn Decker had an awkward phase and blossomed into a more conventionally attractive woman. Good for her, well and truly, because I’ve been there (as have most of us). But I might ask her just what aspect of her personality made it into the ad, particularly when her role consists of 1) being dejected beneath homely makeup and dowdy clothes, and 2) being a model on a fake red carpet. Is she referring to the fact that she used to be “ugly?” Because you can beat around that word all you want, but that’s the message BMW is sending here: Brooklyn Decker was ugly in high school, and now she’s not. Therefore, if you dated her and broke up with her because she wasn’t up to your standard of attractiveness, well, boy, you’re in for a surprise now!
After all, it’s clear that the male character in the commercial is entirely shocked because Brooklyn Decker’s personality has changed so much over the years and not at all because she’s a world-renowned super model. Yup, that’s absolutely it. His amazed response is at the personality leaping off the screen at him and probably not even remotely because she’s a former Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl.
Of course, if they wanted to convey the idea of someone’s personality getting them ahead in life, why not someone like Mayim Bialik, who no doubt overcame “nerdy high-school” stigma on her way to becoming a world-renowned actress and a friggin’ neuroscientist? A woman who has made her own success, done amazing things for herself, and is still somewhat typecast on a show that has almost no understanding of how nerd culture actually works. Then again, Mayim said in an interview at XOJane that she’s more fond of “vintage rambler[s],” but likely won’t get one because she’s a “green, environmentally oriented person.” This only serves as further evidence that Mayim Bialik is a tremendous badass.
FUN FACT: Brooklyn Decker was born in the very same Kettering, Ohio from whence I am writing this particular blog. She also struggled with an eating disorder growing up, which may have potentially been brought about by not being considered attractive at a young age and being rejected by the kinds of guys who would grow up to lament the loss of their potential meal ticket/wife while buying their BMWs. I’m sure that she was forced to grapple with such a terrible thing as a young girl entirely because boys didn’t like her for her personality.
If Brooklyn Decker took the “Opportunity Knocks” ad as a chance to poke some fun at herself and vent a bit of her story, then good for her. I’m sure that’s exactly what the ad geniuses at Nissan had in mind when they cast her in a series of commercials for the Juke back in 2011. You remember those? The ones where she didn’t say a single word and had no role other than to run in a bikini in slow motion and be treated like a sex object? Yeah, those were good commercials that really showed a whole lot of her personality (and by personality, I mean bikini body).
How’s this for a thought: why not have an “Opportunity Knocks” ad where Brooklyn Decker is the one buying the BMW? Why not use her experience of buying a Series 3 Sedan as some kind of testament to the success she’s achieved and how she’s overcome that “nerdy” stage of her life? That ad might better convey the idea that buying a BMW is some kind of rite of passage for the successful while also letting Brooklyn show a bit of that personality she talked about.
Oh, and it would probably also remind the home viewing audience that women are independently successful and drive luxury cars, too. It would seem that a lot of luxury car commercials tend to forget this, and the “Opportunity Knocks” ad is no exception.