Three million people watched a 12-minute promotional show for the new BMW 5 series, which was aired by German TV stations ProSieben and Sat1 on June 29.

"We had more viewers than [the talk show] Sabine Christiansen on a rival network," said BMW marketing director Wolfgang Armbrecht.

BMW's promotional show included an appearance by Elton John, who performed the world premiere of a newly recorded version of his song Rocket Man, originally recorded in 1972, the "birth year" of the 5 series.

BMW declined to say how much it cost to produce the show or buy media time to air the spot on the two channels, but it did receive a reduction on the normal rate for TV commercials. An expert at a media planning specialist in Germany estimated the media costs were E1 million.

Armbrecht said he plans to introduce BMW's new compact off-roader, the X3, to the German public in a similar fashion at the end of the year.