A lot of people ‘inside’ BMW were unhappy about their brand team ditching ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ tagline from the car maker’s ads and replacing it with.. JOY.

That’s like Audi dropping ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ and replacing it with ‘Well-built & Reliable’.

The move coincided with the launch of the Z4 Roadster in 2008 and whilst I’m sure it brought new customers to the brand, it also left the door open for Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar and Lexus to muscle in on its territory.

Well, earlier this year BMW in the U.S. took the bold step of turning back. Back to the purity of that single message, but with a slight update – “We Only Make One Thing. The Ultimate Driving Machine.”

“We want to set in motion a platform that defines what ‘the ultimate driving machine’ means in 2012 and beyond,” said Dan Creed, Chief Marketing Officer of BMW North America.

In an interview with brandchannel, he went on to say “Twenty years ago, it was all about visceral horsepower, handling and going fast. But now we have four, six and eight-cylinder engines; we have diesel and gasoline and EV [powertrains]; we have ‘i’ [electric vehicles for urban settings] and still our strong involvement with motorsports. Those last two are extremes. What we’re saying is that, no matter the vehicle, we’re delivering an ultimate driving machine.”

The new (i.e. old) brand identity replaces the controversial ‘JOY’ positioning of the past two years, which was created by agency GSD&M with the support of BMW North America’s marketing boss Jack Pitney. Pitney died tragically in a tractor accident at his holiday farm and shortly thereafter client and agency parted company.

BMW’s move to recapture its most successful brand identity has adopted a polar opposite approach to the minimalist ‘JOY’ campaign. Out goes brevity and in its place comes prose..

“While some vehicles try to be all things to all people, BMW only wants to be one thing to all people. No matter the shape or size, series or model, we only make one thing so you can feel one thing—pure, unbridled exhilaration. The kind you can only get from the Ultimate Driving Machine.®”

Or try this..

“We don’t make sports cars. We don’t make SUVs. We don’t make hybrids, and we don’t make luxury sedans. We only make one thing, the ultimate driving machine.”

See what I mean? Byron would be welling up about now..

Their latest ad, called ‘Cake’, celebrates the 40th anniversary of BMW M. “Here’s to 40 years of BMW M. 40 years of the Ultimate Driving Machine® and 40 years of having your cake and eating it too.”

BMW are using the ad to redefine Efficient Dynamics from an M Car perspective – better fuel efficiency with all the performance – a new kind of Joy. (that last bit is my suggestion – it’s a play on Kia’s ‘A new way to roll’, and keeps the JOY-fans happy. You’re welcome.)

The 30-second ad features the limited-edition M3 GTS, M5 saloon and 1 Series M Coupe, presented with a suitably laconic swagger and a Sleigh Bells like backing tune. There’s even a cue-in for BMW’s new (i.e. old) tag line – “Really fast, high performance. Cake.”

Perfect. Do you want some tea with that..?