Feb 28, 2008

Mini Love

So a friend of mine came home the other day to find a shiny black box on his doorstep. It seems he'd recently bought a Mini Cooper and the box was a gift from the company.

A week after he'd gotten it, he was able to recite to me, in fairly good detail, everything that was in the box (mostly toys-- a foldable model of a Mini, adhesive word puzzles to put on the car's windows, a deck of cards.) He was clearly thrilled and this is a veteran ad guy with a healthy degree of skepticism, not some wide-eyed dilettante.

Mini is well-known for its innovative follow-up programs with customers. (Another friend got a toy model of his Mini a few years back, and was similarly delighted.) But more than delighted, these guys have become what the kids call "Brand Evangelists." In just a few short years they've made Mini into a Prom King Brand™.

What's more, they're also illustrating another Toadian premise: Total Branding* - the idea that everything is an opportunity for branding, from your store to your uniforms to your sales receipts to (in this instance) your follow-up material.

It's the best way to ensure you'll never hear your customers say "I like you, but... Your Brand Is Not My Friend™"

*I'm working on a catchier term for this.


Anonymous said...

Agencies don't want to do game boxes. Game boxes don't win at Cannes.

Alan Wolk said...

Maybe not Cannes, Gossage, but I suspect that some One Show pencils may be awarded for the box. (I haven't actually seen it, so can't swear by that.)

Fallon used to do great dimensional DM pieces back in the day, which they were duly rewarded for.

But your point is well-taken: agencies need to expand their definition of creativity beyond TV spots (or viral videos that look exactly like TV spots.) The most successful players in the past 10 years have done it by focusing on the total experience and making that the marketing message. It's a less tangible focus than TV/print/radio/web, but a wildly successful one.

Anonymous said...

Going beyond TV is great. Too bad most agencies only do that as part of the latest BDA award show scam du jour: the dimensional piece that looks like part of a larger, ongoing Total Branding campaign, but is in fact just something a creative team built themselves then had a local photographer shoot as a favor in the agency lobby, someone's back yard or at the local shopping mall while the agency ECD stands lookout for security guards.

I've never understood this. These guys put all this work into doing fake, one-shot award show entry pieces that everyone knows are fake. Why not put that effort into revamping your wastefull internal agency process, minor-league planning and give-em-what-they-want approach to account management that causes the agency's day-to-day output to suck so bad? Of course, that would require vision, risk and having long term goals that benefit many instead of just a few. OK, mystery solved.

Anonymous said...

mini has been doing this since the crispin days. great idea. say thank you for buying our car.

but being thoughtful is, alas, not corporate america's forte. which is why it always works so well whenever anyone does it. it's the little things alfie...

still waiting for something from chrysler for buying my minivan six years ago. bastards.

Alan Wolk said...

"(B)eing thoughtful is, alas, not corporate america's forte."


But I suspect that will have to change as the internet enables greater transparency and accountability. (Which is a polite way of saying they'll have to start cleaning up their acts now that everyone can see what they're up to.)

Anonymous said...

well it just makes sense, as bullshit marketing becomes less effective, to focus on making the "brand reality" better. as opp. to the "brand image".

Toni Lee said...

Butler Shine Stern is MINI's agency. They have a new campaign for the newest mini model - the clubman. They touch every single point of the customer experience from what happens in the dealership to how you get there in the first place. And for the first time, Butler used television ads! Not matter of course with MINI. The ads build off the fun design of the clubman which has two rear doors that open out from the middle. THe doors become flippers in a pin ball game that is part of a global ad campaign. And of course, Butler turned the pin ball game into an actual game for Wii. Small agency doing top to bottom marketing. Seamlessly.

Anonymous said...

bss have been doing some nice stuff, but i have to say, the outdoor and print for the mini clubman zucks. have you zeen it?

it makes no sense and it's annoying.

Alan Wolk said...

@Antoinette: Welcome to The Toad Stool and thanks for the update. I'd forgotten who handled Mini these days.

I saw the TV spots and remembered them, though I did not get the suicide door thing from the spot - on the other hand, I'm not in the market for a Mini and wasn't paying careful attention- I thought the whole pinball game device was clever though.

Anonymous said...

i always thought mini usa missed the boat by ignoring the mini's uk heritage.

my neighbor in ireland was a rally driver who used to race minis. he was also a merchant seaman. and when he went to sea we (his son and my friends) used to bomb around the backroads of the west of ireland in his souped up cars.

awfully dangerous in retrospect. and terribly uncomfortable. no seats for passengers.

Alan Wolk said...

@Antoinette: Just YT'd the Pinball spot. When you said "rear doors" I thought you meant the second row doors ("suicide doors" were a feature on 1950s cars where the second set of SIDE doors opened towards the rear of the car. Wikipedia explains the origin of the name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_door)

Anyway, now the whole spot makes sense again.