BMW Motorrad unveiled its latest electric scooter prototype, the BMW C evolution, to the world’s media with an international press event in London on July 27. This eye-catching scooter’s launch during the Olympic Games would help propel the news out to a world already focused on the city and help market the BMW Group’s sustainable technology. Preparing press images and videos in London in advance of this date – and keeping them out of the public domain – required a skilled, multi-national, multi-agency operation, planned with military precision.
In this age of high-speed, wireless communication, file-sharing and internet hot-spots on every street corner, keeping anything secret is just about impossible. This is especially true as most smart-phones now have cameras capable of shooting high-quality images or recording HD video — and being able to upload them to YouTube at the touch of a button.
In the good old days, ‘spy shots’ of heavily camouflaged prototype machines were usually only acquired by daring long telescopic lens equipped photo-journalists who were willing to hide out in trees or behind hedges. Not so any more, as many motor manufacturers have found out to their cost, with photos or films of forthcoming models captured by unsuspecting members of the public and then shared worldwide.
Therefore, keeping the BMW C evolution ‘under wraps’, while shooting film and photos in central London was the task facing German agency M4, who were commissioned by BMW Motorrad to deliver audio and visual materials in time for the new model’s official unveiling, several weeks later in the capital.
Several members of the team, including a director, producer, cameraman and general assistant, arrived in London late in June, accompanied by a security guard in charge of protecting the one prototype BMW C evolution assigned to this project. A team of technicians from the factory in Berlin traveled with the prototype to carry out safety checks, recharging, cleaning and maintenance if required (it wasn’t). Furthermore, a team from BMW Motorrad UK’s London-based PR agency Jardine International was recruited for their local knowledge of the area, to assist with securing all the necessary photography and filming permits from local councils and to help with the actual logistics of the film shoot.
A prior reconnaissance had revealed locations that would take in some of the capital’s most notable areas, including Soho, Chelsea and Westminster, as well as prominent landmarks such as Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, Festival Hall, the London Eye and even a graffiti skate park on the South Bank. With all of these places attracting tourists, office workers and also residents, filming would need to start early and finish late.
So it was that the team would meet at a BMW dealership south of the River Thames in Battersea at around 5am every day, to film as much as possible before the capital came to life. Of course, like all major cities, a place like London never really sleeps, so routes were carefully chosen to avoid delays and congestion with the intention to always ‘keep moving.’ By the time a passer-by realized that the interesting scooter whooshing by was not only a BMW, but also electric-powered and not yet on sale, then it was already too late to get out a camera and start filming.
The BMW C evolution was transported from location to location hidden from view in a truck. For ‘tracking shots,’ a camera car was used as well as specially modified R1200RT complete with rear facing platform, mounting points for the heavy filming equipment and special seat trays designed to accommodate slim panniers containing all the batteries and transmission equipment required to power the film cameras.
All that remained was for the rider – picked for his model looks – to always be ready to jump on the BMW C evolution, twist the throttle and head out on the city streets. The ride took in exclusive residential Chelsea addresses, bohemian Soho haunts, cool inner-city hang-outs, tourist attractions and even a trip into suburban Cobham in neighboring Surrey to show the scooter in less built-up areas.
Back in the capital though, the BMW C evolution easily cut through city traffic looking just as vehicle designed by BMW for urban mobility should.