Patrick Womack, the general manager of a BMW dealership in suburban Chicago, has long been a fan of the BMW Art Cars painted by celebrated artists such as Andy Warhol. So when a dealer friend approached him about entering a BMW aftersales contest, he decided to get creative.
Laurel BMW of Westmont’s M2 Art Wrap design competition was born. The dealership, which has built a reputation as a motorsports-themed store, launched the contest last fall. By November, the winning artist’s design had been wrapped on an M2 customized with M Performance parts. Laurel BMW’s accessory sales have soared since, and BMW displayed the car on its stand at this month’s Chicago Auto Show.
Womack, a racer himself, wanted the resulting car to be sporty — a street-legal race car that a customer could drive to work then take to a track on the weekend.
Artist Brad Forsythe of Hawaii won the contest with a star-laden, red-white-and-blue wrap design. More than 25 designs were entered.
Judges included Womack, legendary racer Bobby Rahal, Turner Motorsport founder Will Turner and BMW of North America marketing chief Trudy Hardy. Forsythe was awarded a two-day M Performance driving experience and a trip to Chicago to attend the car’s unveiling.
Laurel BMW started to promote the contest in October, documenting the accessory installation on the M2 on the dealership’s social media channels. That created buzz, and visitors to the dealership started asking about the project. The car was on display at the store in November and December, and the dealership’s sales of M Performance parts increased 121 percent during the last two months of the year. The store’s BMW Lifestyle accessory sales doubled for the same period.
While Womack doesn’t expect those gains to continue at the same pace, he does predict the project will help the dealership keep selling more accessories.
That goal would be helped if the dealership wins BMW’s global AFAME contest, officially the Point-of-Sales Award for Aftersales Marketing Excellence. Laurel BMW is one of eight U.S. dealerships competing, and the winner is expected to be announced in May.
The customized M2 was being put up for sale after the Chicago Auto Show. Womack estimates the dealership has put nearly $100,000 into the car and contest, nearly twice the car’s sticker price.
A price for the accessorized vehicle hadn’t been set yet. Womack says it won’t reflect the full investment, but he expects the dealership will more than cover the project’s cost with the added accessory revenue it has generated.
The project has inspired Womack to consider building a Laurel Motorsports special edition car every year to promote accessory sales. It would be a track-day car that also could be driven daily, he said.