Cannes Lions

BMW: Ba Ma Wo

TBWA\SHANGHAI, Shanghai / BMW / 2020

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• Situation

Chinese New Year campaigns in China are similar to Super Bowl campaigns or Christmas campaigns in the West. Crowded, noisy and expensive. It can be difficult to cut through the clutter and differentiate one brand from another. This is because all brands talk about the same emotional topics such as family, reunions and Chinese New Year good wishes. These topics are inevitable. For car brands, this is even trickier. When a car is put at the center of a story, it can be challenging to be emotional or human. It can be irrelevant or even forced. We needed something meaningful, authentic yet unique to BMW to make deep social and cultural impact.

• Brief

To help BMW to stand out from the clutter of Chinese New Year campaigns.

• Objectives

Make BMW a part of Chinese New Year and emotionally engage with Chinese consumers.


BMW is an acronym which stands for Bayerische Moteren Werke, providing space for re-interpretation of its name. We wanted to engage with Chinese consumers emotionally by renaming BMW in a more meaningful, authentic and ownable way.


To effectively launch this film, instead of treating it like a commercial, it was treated as a movie release. The target audience was BMW customers, the public at large and BMW employees, dealers and partners.

The campaign to launch the film progressively rolled out from January 14 to February 15, 2020. Starting with the teaser “Who is Bayier” (taken from the name of the film), to the revelation of the new name “Ba Ma Wo”, concluding with Ning Hao’s filmmaking documentary. To support the campaign, a diversified set of communication assets including film posters, film trailers, behind-the-scenes video, film stills, director’s interview and movie “talking film” content, released progressively on social media platforms and on movie and video sites.

The film was also previewed at special events for internal stakeholders dealers, and partners.



The 22 minutes film shot by Ning Hao is set in the early 1990’s when BMW first came to China. It tells the story of a young boy from a broken family who tries to find a perfect name for his dad’s prized BMW. In his search, the boy realizes that what he really wants is not a “perfect name” but a real family and hence “Ba Ma Wo” or in English “Dad, Mom and Me”. His dad eventually understands his son’s wish and reunites with his mom at Chinese New Year.


Bayier’s Spring Festival: January 21st 2020

TikTok short video series: February 7th 2021


2020: Launched on major video content platforms, amplified on WeChat (1.2 Billion users in 2020) and Weibo (523 Million users in 2020).

2021: Launched on China’s TikTok (600 Million users in August 2020, jumping 50% from January 2020).




14 key opinion leaders collaborated with BMW led to 185 spontaneous influencers spreading the word on social media platforms including Weibo, WeChat, China’s TikTok and Bilibili.

The campaign achieved 52.4% positive sentiment. Of this, comments around “loved the movie” 52.5%, “loved the brand” 32.2% and “loved the director” 9.8%. 46.2% was neutral and only 1.4% negative.


- 106 million Total Views

- 1.94 billion Total Impressions


- 2.5 million Weibo discussions and WeChat interactions

- 26 million clicks

- 3.16% click through rate

The campaign was ranked by media publication Social Beta as the #1 Chinese New Year campaign of 2020. It was given a 7.7 ranking out of 10 by Douban, China’s premier movie review site, and the highest rank to date given a branded content film over Chinese New Year.

2021’s Ba Ma Wo campaign on China’s TikTok achieved 122 million views and 108 million engagements.

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