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BMW's Club of Pioneers: Show Us The Money

by BL Ochman  |  
June 25, 2007

BMW's Club of Pioneers, aims to gather individuals and institutions who care about creating an earth-friendly future. But the site's been around for since 2006, and it still doesn't convince me that that BMW actually gives a crap about clean energy.

On the one hand, sustainability is the crucial issue of our times. On the other hand, BMW is a car company, and every one of them acts as if the energy crisis is something they just heard about last week. BMW could be a shining example if it did more than talk.
All Form, No Substance
BMW says on the site "We want to be part of this debate; together, we want to be a strong voice in that debate!" And a Club of Pioneers Award will be given in 2007 in the fields of science, lifestyle and media.
In other words, BMW is not going to put any big bucks into a sustainable energy project, by funding research, development, manufacturing or anything else. They'll just hand out awards and say nice things about clean energy. C'mon BMW, you can do better!
Dear BMW - Why not celebrate, reward, and fund the best sustainable energy projects suggested and selected by members of the Club of Pioneers community?
We can join the club, and earn Pioneer Miles. Crank up the miles to Level 3 and they give you a blog of your own where you can "set your agenda for a clean and polluting emission-free future."
It is a sort of social networking site where you see profiles of all the members, some of whom have eco-blogs, and you can participate in discussion forums. Contribute often enough and they let you have your own blog on the site. My friend Piers Fawkes of PSFK is one of the bloggers, (although he hasn't updated is Club of Pioneers blog since 2006) and so is Nick Aster of Treehugger, (who hasn't updated his CoP blog since January 2007.) Other members do blog more regularly, but it's still all just talk.
Too bad BMW is not adding anything but bluster. Show us the money!

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B.L. Ochman is a social media marketing strategist for S&P 500 companies, including McGraw Hill, IBM, Cendant, and American Greetings. She publishes What's Next Blog and Ethics Crisis, where readers can confess their worst ethics transgressions and others can rate them on a scale of one to ten. She also blogs for MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog.

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  • by Harry Hallman Tue Jun 26, 2007 via blog

    Thanks for pointing this site out to us BL. Looks like the site is getting about 40-50 k visitors per month according to Alexa ranking. I agree I would like to see BMW come out with a hybrid sooner and take a more active roll in environmental issues. I think this mini social net is a start and it certainly gets some people involved. More importantly it will eventually (assuming they keep it) have some effect on the company. I have had my BMW since 1997 and it has 160K miles on it and still runs well. I would love to be able to buy a 3 series hybrid. Anyway from a marketing prospective I believe we will see (I hope so anyway since I sell them) many more mini social network sites sponsored by companies. BMW could and may have many of them. I believe it is a numerous number of small social sites that will make a difference for a lot of causes and for marketing in general.

  • by B.L. Ochman Tue Jun 26, 2007 via blog

    Harry - the problem here is that this site has been online for more than a year. BMW has done little if anything to promote it. So it seems a lot like an empty shell. I agree that it would be great if many companies sponsored mini social networks, but they need to be sincere and willing to put resources including money behind them or they don't mean much.

  • by Harry Hallman Wed Jun 27, 2007 via blog

    BL, I agree one hundred percent. I own BMWs and get their magazine but I never heard of this site. They are not the only company that builds a web site and thinks because they built it people will visit. They do not market it and then when it fails to get enough people to join or visit they say knowbody cared. The truth is they didn't care enough. Great point and one that I hope changes in the future.

  • by Alexander Görlach Wed Jun 27, 2007 via blog

    BL, thanks for checking our site and writing about it. It may not make you wonder though that I do not agree with all you are saying. Club of Pioneers was founded at the occasion of the readiness of the Hydrogen 7 to the market last December. The Hydrogen 7 vehicle is indeed a clean energy product - it emits nothing but water. To develop this sort of alternative vehicle BMW has invested millions of dollars over the last 25 years. So I think it is not fair or right to say BMW gives a damn about clean energy. We as a community can not give money to our members (this is actually not the idea or intention of a community as I see it) - we try to gather people who research and work in the many innovative fields that contributes to a clean energy future. By offer them the chance to blog on the site we create more possibilities of awareness for climate change and we set a tool of interaction to combate it. Cheers, Alex

  • by B.L. Ochman Wed Jun 27, 2007 via blog

    I did not say that BMW doesn't care about clean energy. I said the ***site,*** Club of Pioneers has"been around for since 2006, and it still doesn't convince me that that BMW actually gives a crap about clean energy. %3E No you do not! For that to happen, you'd have to promote the site widely, and then you'd have to help make something happen with those ideas. It's just an empty shell otherwise. And that's why its high profile participants gave up on it.

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