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BMW North America Uses AI to Put Hofmeister Kink on the Map


IPG’s data-driven creative agency, Performance Art, leverages 60 years of BMW’s iconic design to drive brand engagement and enthusiasm

BMW North America Uses AI to Put Hofmeister Kink on the Map

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Hofmeister Kink, a visual design element introduced in 1962 and featured on virtually every BMW model since, the brand is introducing a first-of-its-kind, Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven platform. The newly created enables BMW owners and enthusiasts to discover and experience roads that are shaped like the unique ‘kink’ design. Developed by the creative, strategy and technology teams at BMW agency Performance Art, the platform uses custom-built artificial intelligence to understand, recognise and pinpoint the location of every Hofmeister Kink-shaped road in the United States. More than 56,000 of them. 

“The Hofmeister Kink represents an important part of BMW’s design legacy, a bit of insider info for BMW owners and enthusiasts,” said Kevin Campbell, head of CRM, BMW NA. “The 60th anniversary presents a timely opportunity to celebrate this iconic feature by providing consumers with an engaging platform to drive their own Hofmeister Kink and experience BMW’s performance design ethos on the everyday roads near them.”

At, drivers can discover ‘kink-shaped’ roads that match their vehicle or a vehicle of their choice from a digital library of hundreds of BMW models and years. On the platform, they can keep a log of the ‘kinks’ they’ve driven and share their stats on social media. 

“While trends impact craft, some of the best design is iconic and timeless,” says Ian Mackenzie, chief creative officer of Performance Art. “Beginning with BMW’s classic 1500 and on through to today’s fully electric iX, the Hofmeister Kink has evolved while simultaneously retaining its signature form. To take that 60-year-strong design feature and unlock new dimensions using today’s latest AI technology is pure BMW performance. Put simply: our goal is to help the world re-discover this incredible, iconic brand asset by seeing it with fresh eyes – and then literally driving it.”

While many people first recognise a BMW by its trademark kidney-shaped grille, in-the-know BMW enthusiasts celebrate the Hofmeister Kink. Originally created to serve as a visual indicator of rear-wheel drive and forward momentum, the feature is located near the base of every BMW’s rearmost pillar and derives its moniker from the name of its creator, Wilhelm Hofmeister, who led the BMW design department in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

To activate the program, BMW owners across the United States will receive individualised emails with directions to the nearest Hofmeister Kink-shaped road that matches the Hofmeister Kink on their vehicle. The Hofmeister Kink campaign launches today and is supported by digital, paid and organic social, CRM and in dealerships. 

Discover the Data Science Behind Driving the Hofmeister Kink

While the user experience that enables BMW drivers and enthusiasts to discover and drive the more than 56,000 Hoffmeister kink-shaped roads throughout the US is simple and elegant, behind the scenes it is fuelled by a complex ecosystem of datasets and custom-designed AI.

To identify every Hofmeister Kink-shaped road across the country, the first step was to use images of every BMW model produced since 1962 to create vectorized versions of each model’s individual ‘kink’ shape. Sixty-four vectorised ‘kink curves’ led to a custom-created synthetic AI training set made up of 30,720 images, which were supported by Google Colab for machine learning and the open-source neural framework, Darknet, for computation.

From there, the job was to train the model using the synthetic training set, running detection on the incredibly complex US road network which spans more than 3.9 million miles. Asked about the project, Ian Mackenzie said, “Using AI to detect and map Hofmeister Kink-shaped curves on a roadmap of the US wasn’t a needle-in-a-haystack kind of task – it was a needle-in-10,000-haystacks task.”

The team turned to YOLO v4, a convolutional neural network that detects and recognises objects and shapes in real-time, to identify Hofmeister Kink-shaped roads across the country ­­­­­­with stunning speed and accuracy. The team then ran dozens of AI training sessions to identify the highest possible number of ‘kinks’ while maximising the confidence in the results. 

The last step was to extract the AI results as +55,000 geo-coordinates that would power the Hofmeister Kink CRM engine and to use aerial photography and satellite imagery to visualise each and every kink from coast to coast using the MapBox API. 

See them all at


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Categories: Cars, Automotive

Performance Art US, Wed, 27 Jul 2022 08:24:44 GMT