Dear BMW: Joy Is Boring

Someone at BMW just got the century-old advertising message: Don’t sell the feature, sell the benefit.

So out the door went “the ultimate driving machine,” which BMW has owned. And in came “BMW is Joy,” which it cannot even lease.

The German auto maker’s new brandifesto predictably proclaims: “We don’t just build cars, we create emotions.”

Well, here’s my emotion: Bleh.

Car companies have been selling the “joy of driving” for years; many, far more joyfully. The concept is OK, I guess. BMWs really are a blast to drive. But the word “joy” has no spine, heart or soul.

Joy is the kind of world-weary word you’d see on a rack of unsold Christmas cards on December 26.

Judging from the tone of the ad—and its shiny, happy models—I’m guessing that auto maker is trying to erase the stereotype that BMW drivers are rude, selfish *sshats (Google “BMW Drivers are” and you’ll see what I mean).

But there has to be a richer, more idiosyncratic word—or phrase—to rally the brand behind. It’s not bliss or rapture or ecstacy, all of which sound like heard-it-before hyperbole.

My unpolished thought: Drive in the Moment. BMW provides a driving experience so joyful that you can experience it—and the people you’re with—without the overhanging distractions of the world.

If BMW jumps on it, they can still even own