BMW have recently launched their new Z4, but as well as a glossy TV spot, the company are deploying a complex social media campaign.

Learning something from previous criticisms of their social media strategy, the company provide users with a 3D paintbrush tool to author their own content. Users can then paint their desktop using a Z4 (like the TV ad) and share their work online.

The campaign is bringing together several technologies such as 3D, augmented reality and social networking. Other car manufacturers have done similar downloadable apps, such VW's GTI screensaver from the 2005 launch of the Golf GTI MkV.

before

The software uses a webcam to capture an image of your desktop. It scans the image for the Z4 symbol, then uses that as a reference to map a 3D model of the Z4 car onto your desktop.

The nature of advertising is changing. I've been inspired to write this post not by a well shot TV commercial, or a good looking car, but instead by a clever bit of software, that was probably cheaper to produce than either. And I heard about it because one of my Facebook friend 'became a fan' of the BMW Z4!