The 2011 Super Bowl rocked. Well, at least the game rocked. Between fans being turned away from unsafe seats, a not-so-hip halftime show and a cringe-worthy national anthem faux pas, the ancillary entertainment quotient this year sorta fell flat for me. Even the commercials – while not the worst I’ve seen – didn’t give me the charge they have in the past.

But one commercial made me sit up in my seat and grabbed my attention.

Did you see BMW’s commercial for its commitment to US manufacturing, featuring its workers and facilities at BMWNA’s  Spartanburg, SC plant? It was spectacular.

And yeah, I really liked the Detroit-Eminem-Chrysler piece too. But it seemed a bit like propaganda to me. A little too ‘rah-rah.’ With a dash of ‘whistling past the graveyard’ in it.

Nope. For my money, BMW said the right things, in the right tone, that US manufacturers would do well to remember through the year. It spoke in no-nonsense language, stating specifically what they do and why they do it. Check it out:

I saw 4 things that US manufacturers should pay close attention to in this commercial, and that should help drive our movement toward a comprehensive national industrial policy:

  1. Build Where The Market Is – Like soft drink manufacturers have for years, higher technology manufacturing will begin to make sense closest to where consumption takes place. Technology has enabled this shift, and BMW is just one of many examples of OEMs finding huge savings, innovation advantages and supply chain efficiencies in embedding production within markets. And this goes for the US market or emerging economies like China or India.
  2. Exporting Takes Courage and Commitment – BMW has invested over $4-billion in its Spartanburg, SC, plant. This didn’t just happen by accident. The proximity, government cooperation, community, economics and long-term strategies folded into a complex but sensible equation that benefited all parties. The investment was large, but the potential rewards are great. And in case you think this paid off overnight, BMW began building this indigenous strategy in 1992. The US government would do well to study BMW’s strategies and apply them to its own policies going forward. You can’t win if you don’t play.
  3. Foreign Manufacturing Doesn’t Mean You Hate Your Country – We need jobs. Desperately. But think for a minute if the shoe was on the other foot – imagine GM building vast industrial facilities in China, where consumption will reward those that invest, and what those efforts might mean for our own economy. (Oh, wait – they are.) You can bet the Germans are not disappointed in BMW’s Spartanburg strategy. Xenophobia is poison in a global manufacturing economy. It’s actually unpatriotic to not pursue opportunities in other markets to improve our export stature. Understand that our problems didn’t come from manufacturing in low-cost countries – it came from not protecting our base at the same time.
  4. Foreign Manufacturers in the US Offer Huge Opportunities – Look at the people in the commercial. They’re locals. Sure, there are probably more than a few cats from corporate. But is anyone willing to argue the impact of jobs on a local economy these days? And how about the opportunities to plug in as a node in a supply chain like BMW’s? BMW says that 40 of it’s 170 North American suppliers have located close to the Spartanburg plant. Manufacturers must market to and communicate with these international companies as more adopt production strategies like BMW’s in the US. And they will.

Small and mid-sized manufacturers in the US – not just the large, multinational OEMs – should embrace manufacturing strategies that capitalize on regional and foreign markets. Whether you’re comfortable with it or not, it’s not going away & it’s only going to become more prevalent.

BMW’s model works, makes sense and we’re going to see more like it – both here in the US and abroad. So what are you doing to set your business up for success in emerging markets?

Overseas, and here at home?