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BMW Makes An Offer You Can't Refuse: Free Seat-Time That Pays Team USA

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On: Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 4:18PM | By: Andrew W Davis

BMW Makes An Offer You Can't Refuse: Free Seat-Time That Pays Team USA

Hey, you. Yes, you. Are you driving a brand-new BMW right now? Didn’t think so. [And if you are, shame on you!] Do you want to at some point before or on August 13, 2011? I can make that happen.

We’re talking spending 30 minutes in a 3-, 5- or 7-Series car, X3 SUV or 650i Convertible, with seat time in an equivalent Mercedes-Benz model thrown in for free for all except the drop-top 6 Series.

I know, right? I was totally sold straight away. There was something about the Olympics or some such thing involved, too, but after “free” and “BMW” I stopped listening. Sure enough, when the appointed day and time rolled around, there was a 650i Convertible with my name (electronically) on it sitting at the dealership I selected.

Want in? Read on...

I was looking for a way to charge you for this information, but it really is as simple as it sounds. Provided you and your valid driver’s license can get to your local BMW dealer, those crazy Bavarians are giving you a chance to be BMW owner for a half hour (or for fifteen minutes, as you have to leave time for being a Mercedes-Benz-owner as well).

“The BMW Drive for Team USA Event gives you the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series and the all-new 6 Series Convertible. And we'll also give you the chance to test drive the competition so you can truly see how BMW is at the top of its game. What's more, BMW will donate $10 to Team USA for every drive that's scheduled. So when you get behind the wheel, you'll be helping American athletes train and compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Ah. THAT was the Olympics thing they were mentioning.

The catch? Well, the roster of vehicles DOES vary depending on location, and each dealership is seemingly limited to just one of the one-day events. The best lineup (as in the most vehicle-comparison types) I found was at a New York BMW dealership’s August 8th event.

Their event featured all five of the available programs, with the four comparisons—“3 Series vs. Mercedes-Benz C 300”, “5 Series vs. M-B E 350”, “7 Series vs. M-B S 550” and “X3 vs. M-B GLK 350”—plus the one I participated in, a straight-up drive of the new 650i Convertible.

To see what’s going on and where, you have to visit BMW’s “Drive for Team USA” website and choose the BMW dealership you’ll visit based on zip code. You can then see the day the circus comes to your town, what day it’s coming and the schedule it’ll follow when it gets there. From there you can then select the “program” drive that most interests you and can choose the time slot that’s best for you from what’s available.

I’ll use that NY dealer again as an example. All five programs run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. that Monday, with “start” times every half-hour. Pick your vehicle and an open time slot, complete a little five-question survey—yours truly counts as “Other” for Question 1!—and, so long as you have a valid driver’s license when you show up, you’re golden.

[FYI: Unlike almost everywhere else I’ve looked, there are STILL many slots “open” for all vehicles at my anonymous BMW dealership, so if you use “14221” as YOUR zip you can see them listed. And if you happen to live near 8215 Main St. in Williamsville, NY, you can actually participate there, too.]

Speaking of participating, BMW says your “entire event experience will last up to 60 minutes. This includes a learning session about BMW's latest innovations and a 30 minute test drive per vehicle.”

I may have skipped everything except the test drive portion of the program, but even if I had gotten stuck checking out a spankin’ new BMW for a half-hour, how bad could that have been?

[Alright, but it’s STILL a small price to pay for getting to spend an additional half-hour actually DRIVING the thing, ESPECIALLY as it’s without the usually-required lot-lizard yammering in your ear the whole time.]

You might wonder why BMW is not only spending the $200k they’re giving to the Olympics-whatever, but also the cost of gasoline (if nothing else) being burned by every yahoo with a driver’s license and enough sense to schedule themselves into seat time. I know I did. Here’s their answer:

"This innovative fundraising campaign is a clear demonstration of BMW's deep commitment to supporting the training and preparation of Team USA," said USOC Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Baird. "By giving the American public the opportunity to support America's athletes through the 'Drive for Team USA' events, BMW engages fans and consumers and empowers them to make an impact on the success of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team."

So, let’s see. From June 16 to Aug. 13, 2011, BMW is visiting 276 dealerships across the U.S. (with not just the requisite BMW models but the “comparator” Mercedes-Benzes to boot) to put butts into seats while paying an ADDITIONAL $10 cash money in donations per butt until they reach their “goal” amount (plus an extra $1k they offer those butts should they actually BUY a BMW).

You know what? Just enroll, drive a BMW (and Mercedes!) freely and for free, and leave the rest to someone else to figure out. Did I mention it’s free and that it involves new BMWs? There’s something about the Olympics, too, but after “free BMW”…

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