Genius marketing or self throat cut? BMW dealer distributes H1N1 vaccines for free

Foreign visitors, especially the ones that will go to Brazil for the Olympics, have not to worry only about zika outbursts. Brazil is also facing an epidemics of H1N1, also known as Influenza A or Swine Flu. This disease that has killed 71 people so far in the country this year. There has been a huge demand for vaccines, especially for children, particularly vulnerable to this virus. And, in most medical centers, there is a shortage of these vaccines, even in the places that charge the most for them. A Brazilian BMW dealer has decided the best way to attract customers was to offer H1N1 vaccines at no extra cost to its customers. Buy a BMW and get a H1N1 vaccine for free, in other words. Check the ad below, published in major Brazilian newspapers (in Portuguese):

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It says “Free. H1N1 Vaccine to all BMW customers. Come next saturday, April 9, 2016. At the Agulhas Negras BMW dealer, from 9 am to 6 pm at Av. 23 de maio, 3033”.

The initiative has soon spreaded. And got hugely criticized, what made the Agulhas Negras dealer change the strategy. Everyone that decided to show up, whether to buy a car or not, would receive the vaccine for free. The results were immense lines around the dealer, as these pictures show.

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One more, putting that corner in perspective.

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One thousand shots were given and the dealer plans to give 1,000 more next Saturday, April 16, in another branch, in São Bernardo do Campo.

The dealer now claims to have carried out this marketing action as a way to show some solidarity. Not many have been convinced by the new speech, but the dealer has surely made it into the headlines. The question is: has it paid off? We are sure there are a thousand grateful people out there with what the dealer has made, but we do not see how it will help them get more BMW on the streets. Nor if the initial restriction, only to BMW customers, will be easily forgotten.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.