BMW sez: bureaucracy sucks


The latest BMW ad campaign has very little to do with cars and focuses instead on the corporate values of the Bayerische Motoren Werke.

One version of it says:

We say no to:

Red tape
Lowest common denominators
Middle managemet
Second guessing
Herd mentality

So we can say yes to good ideas.

BMW fights bureaucracy. This is cool. Why is it cool?

1: Bureaucracy kills happiness at work
Bureaucracy saps people’s energy and motivation. If you don’t believe me, read Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon Mackenzie. It’s an excellent book about how to thrive in organizitions plagued by red tape.

2: Branding through good corporate identity rules
BMW are choosing to brand themselves not through their products or technology but through how they run their business.

3: Branding that matches products rules
This campaing works only because the corporate identity they are expressing happens to match the products. BMW’s vehicles (I’m the proud owner of one myself) are innovative and exciting matching the (mildly) revolutionary message of the ads.

It’s great to see companies making a stand against bureaucracy and It’s even better to see companies making bold, positive identities and standing by them.

It just struck me though: Is anyone else surprised to see such an anti-authoritarian message… from a German company :o)

10 thoughts on “BMW sez: bureaucracy sucks”

  1. Alex, love this post. Where did you get the picture!

    And this is the perfect hope generating post for a Friday – if Germans can loosen up their bureaucracy, there is hope for all of us! Smile.

    Thanks for enlarging the conversation – much appreciated on this side of the pond.

  2. Super information. In my new book The Second Cycle – Winning the War against Bureaucracy, (see, also available in Danish, see I highlight the US auto industry as the prototype of an industry that needs to get out of the bureaucracy trap. The US auto industry is complacent, lacks a clear meaning, lacks partnership with employees, builds on a rigid hierarchical organizational structure and lacks value-based leadership. Loosers are customers, employees, subsuppliers, distributors and indeed shareholders. Did you know that the hearing aid company Oticon that I turned around from bankruptcy, now has a market capitalization of about one third of General Motors Corporation?

  3. Mike, I figured this would be right up your alley :o) I get almost all my pictures from stock.xchng at They have lots of great pictures and most of them are free!!!

    And thanks for your comment Lars. I just bought your book today and am a third of the way through it already. It rocks!

    The american auto industry has definitely lost it’s way. In your book your write about the necessity for a partnership between management and employees. For an excellent example of how GM fails to do this, read Life on the Line by Solange deSantis (review here:

    She’s a journalist who worked undercover in a GM van plant for 18 months and saw first hand how the creativity, ideas and energy of the employees was consistently ignored and wasted.

    The fact that Oticon is approaching GM in value is a testament to the fact that innovation beats bureaucracy – which is precisely the point of your book.

  4. BMW hates bureaucracy so much that they have decided to leave Argentina than try to deal with the red tape and trade restrictions here.

  5. I work with BMW and it is full of red tape, bureaucracy, and useless and overpaid middle managers. Their mission statement is just words.

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