Not So Sweet Chariot…

As regular readers of our blog will know, I occasionally use this blog to either congratulate companies who have impressed me with their customer service or denigrate companies who I feel have let themselves down. Today’s blog is all about BMW and their support for England Rugby.

The pavements were crowded in Richmond last Saturday. A mixture of Christmas Shoppers and rugby fans had descended on the town centre in advance of a) Christmas and b) England’s match against New Zealand. There was a very definite air of acceptance amongst the England fans and the New Zealand fans were walking around town looking supremely confident as always.

As we all know, the two sets of fans would be shocked by the end of the match with England pulling off a historic victory and, in doing so, ending the All Blacks 20 match unbeaten run.

I am sure that BMW will be delighted to be associated with England Rugby – their press has been pretty good since the concerns over the team’s behaviour at the last World Cup Finals. They may not be so happy with their own drivers after reading this though…

As I walked down the main thoroughfare last Saturday afternoon, dodging both christmas shoppers and rugby fans, my eye was drawn to what looked like a really clever use of sports sponsorship. Four identical BMW X5’s drove past me slowly in the traffic, each proudly proclaiming their support for England Rugby. I am guessing that they were on their way to Richmond Station to pick up some corporate guests who were arriving by train before whisking them off the Twickenham Stadium.

The really clever bit involved the stickers on the cars. On the rear, the cars subtly announced “Proud Sponsors of England Rugby”. On the back doors, the stickers said “England Rugby” and on the front doors, the largest lettering of all said “SWEET CHARIOT”. At the time, I remember thinking how clever BMW were to use the sweet chariot wording on their large luxury 4×4’s as they drove rugby guests to see England play. I was so impressed with the branding, that I whipped my phone out and snapped a photo of the cars.

It all went horribly downhill after that though. All four cars stopped at the traffic lights in the middle of town. They were all in the right hand lane as they were passing a stopped municipal lorry waiting in the left hand lane.  As they waited at the lights, a lady holding the hand of a young child decided to try to cross the road, without using the proper crossing. We have all done it when confronted with a line of stopped traffic. It seems so much easier to simply walk across between two of the stopped cars, especially as the left-hand lane was definitely safe due to the parked lorry.

But to my amazement, when the lights changed and the front three BMW X5 “Sweet Chariots” started to pull away, so did the fourth one – even though the pedestrian and her child were effectively standing in front of it. As the X5 started forward, there was that moment of indecision by both the pedestrian and the BMW driver. Then the BMW continued forward, effectively bullying the women and child out of its way. The woman quickly stepped back and pulled her child to safety and the BMW continued on its mission.

I can only imagine that the BMW driver simply made a bad call on the day. I really hope that he was not instructed to avoid becoming separated from the other cars at any cost. The facts are that he could have easily let the woman and child walk in front of his vehicle and then caught his colleagues up as no other cars could have got between them – with only one lane available to all traffic.

Whatever the reason for his bullying tactics, I was left with a very poor impression of BMW and their support for England Rugby. So much so, that I continued to take photos of the car as it forced its way past the pedestrians and so much so that I have spent five minutes typing this blog.

I sincerely hope that our own branded event support vans would never let us down so badly in front of the public.

Jim Graham