BMW offering free audio books designed for the 40 minute auto commute

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February 7, 2006 As MP3 technology gives greater accessibility to all forms of audio content, there has been tremendous growth in the area of audio books. Audio books offer a very different user experience and are finding a loyal band of devotees amongst people who regularly need to drive long distances. For those drivers who don’t have satellite radio, recorded books offer a continuous thread of amusement that lasts much longer than terrestrial-based radio station footprints. Accordingly, it was a natural fit for BMW to follow the success of its internet-based ‘The Hire’ series of short films by offering free MP3 audio books specifically designed to be experienced while driving, with the average length of 45 minutes per story matching the average driver’s commute.

Inspired by the success of BMW’s innovative series under ‘The Hire’ banner (starring Madonna, Clive Owen, James Brown and Gary Oldman), BMW is now entering another new media arena with audio books by offering four debut short stories mixing, naturally enough, the best in BMW product with contemporary original literature.

The stories have been designed to be experienced while driving, with the average length of 45 minutes per story matching the average driver’s commute. The first four stories feature the BMW X3, 1 Series, Z4 and 7 Series models and scripts have been written by both established and up-and-coming authors - Karin Slaughter (Kisscut, Faithless, Indelible), James Flint (The Book of Ash, 52 Ways to Magic America), Don Winslow (The Power of the Dog, California Fire and Life) and Simon Kernick (The Crime Trade, The Murder Exchange).

The first audio book, Don Winslow’s Beautiful Ride, features a BMW Z4 and launches today, three weeks before the car’s European debut at the Geneva Motor Show. Slaughter, Flint and Kernick’s stories will be launched during the next six weeks.

The following is a short summary of Winslow’s Beautiful Ride, which can be downloaded for free: Back then he was looking at a fat IPO and a boat. Back then he was rich. Back then he had a condo overlooking the ocean, a wife, and had just bought the BMW Z4 convertible. Cobalt blue, like the ocean on a clean, clear day in early spring. Now what he has left is the car. Ted's a real estate investor in Laguna Beach, California. He's been kicked out by his soon-to-be ex wife, his assets have been frozen by the IRS, he's holding on to his Beemer, but the car company's repo men want it back, and he's living in a tent. He's falling through the cracks of the 'Gold Coast' life, until he turns to money-laundering to get back in the game. Then things get worse...

Users can then burn their own CDs and/or load the content on their iPods or other MP3 players. The website also provides background information about the authors and allows users the opportunity to submit reviews.

BMW’s advertising agency WCRS collaborated with Random House to develop the audio books. The principle behind this new genre for BMW was based on the concept that senses and experience are influenced by environment. For example, reading a ghost story while sitting alone at night in a derelict gothic mansion will be more emotionally involving than reading the same story on a Spanish beach. The same principle applies to an audio book featuring an exciting or challenging drive-story heard whilst at the wheel – particularly if the wheel in question is the same car as described in the story.

Richard Hudson, BMW UK Marketing Communications Manager, said: "BMW Audio Books are another innovative marketing communication that were inspired by the success of the BMW Films series. The audio books take a traditional creative process and twist it into a unique offer for a forward-thinking audience. BMW has always challenged perceptions and driven new technology forwards and we believe that BMW Audio Books reflect the same principles. We also think that the best place to enjoy the stories will be at the wheel of the BMW featured in the story."

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