Photoshop illo from both sides of BMW direct mail piece. Graphic by Don Bain

Why do they call BMW grilles Kidneys?

Of course the short answer is they were shaped somewhat like our symmetrically placed organs from the 50s to the 90s, but the shape of the BMW grille has been elongating for over 20 years and it now looks more like a pair of expensive sunglasses.

The other reason is that part of the nature of traditions is they frequently tend to outlive their purpose, meaning or relativity. One need only look at our antiquated education system, founded on principles established in the late 1880’s, to see this in practice. The kids of today are a world apart from the kids back then, but has the approach to teaching changed?

Hardly at all.

So journalists will continue to refer to the grille on the BMW as kidney-shaped, even though the resemblance to the bean-shaped organs disappeared 22 years ago.

It’s the same with the affectation of referring to the brand as Bimmer. We aren’t speaking German here so that word rhymes with trimmer. In English, to sound like steamer it has to be spelled Beamer.

Pardon the lesson in semantics and phonetics, but this all occurred to me upon receipt of the direct mail promo from a local dealer pictured above. I looked at the top half of the image above and thought, “It looks more like Dior sunglasses than kidneys!”

Then it occurred to me we will continue to hear the BMW grille referred to in the same old way, despite the fact it is now a misnomer.

Traditions begin because they serve a function – once they no longer perform that function they should be discarded.

If were going to hang on to things simply because they are old, we should start treating our elders better.

The new BMW features a sunglass grille – doesn’t that sound nice?

Furthermore, with apologies to ZZTop, these ain’t no cheap sunglasses!

Happy Holidays!

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