Walking in the desert and random thoughts ping-pong in my mind. I notice, “BMW broke my heart.” Immediately a voice scolds, “You idiot, a car can’t break your heart.” “But” I insist, “it did.”
It was the car. Financial Services. The leasing dealership of three years ago. It was the car before that (needed the lifters replaced at just 30K miles and them keeping it three weeks, telling me “be patient” because my service manager was going through a divorce.) Maybe a car can’t break your heart, but a brand can.
I had a relationship with the BMW brand long before owning the vehicle. For me, it was something to aspire to – that “ultimate driving experience.” And just like any relationship, you can get hurt. Fine, not as much as breaking up with someone, but a lot like it.
I had been the kind that didn’t get into cars at all. But like a girl with her first crush on a boy, something clicked. I saw a blue bimmer convertible in the parking lot and a grad school classmate got into it. I thought he must be loaded, but no, he was this sensible but determined guy. “Like me.” I thought.
I won’t go into the details of “what went wrong” (a blog, not a book) but what I will do is defend the feeling, “BMW broke my heart.” They didn’t literally leave me by the roadside but they did, figuratively, more than once. I’d been abandoned by my brand…”abrandoned.”
Businesses strive to evoke brand loyalty in their followers and I was fiercely loyal, both to my aspiration to drive one and to my willingness to give them a second chance after everything went sideways with the first car. Just like when a person disappoints you but you are sure they can do better so you give them a second chance. Then it went that way again, only even worse and across business units. I felt jilted. Yes, I FELT.
Researchers study logical purchases versus emotional ones. Brands strive for an emotional connection with buyers and I was emotional. Maybe it was because I’d been a late bloomer, & I was finally understanding, “Americans love their cars” – using cars for self-expression – and nothing expressed me better than the 3 series white convertible with the black top. I’d found something I really loved. (I know “you can’t love a car” – you’re right, I loved the experience of driving it, the top-down-heated-seats-winding road drives in the mountains & cruising across I-80 to and from Chicago, loved “bonding” with it on road trips but I never loved the way I was treated by BMW.)
I’m so illogical that I still think about another one. Like thinking about going back to that relationship you know just doesn’t work. I think about the song, “Staaand by your man…”
“Maybe it’ll be different” I think when I see “BMW North Scottsdale” on the caller id. I hold out hope only because this dealership had been the one less than horrible aspect of the whole thing. But I let it go to voicemail. I owe it to myself not to stand by this brand.