Introducing the Mini Cooper

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Question 1: What strategy is implied? [I.e. what was CP+B’s overall plan to make the product a success? What did they establish as the brand essence? What do you think they should do for year two?]

CP + B faced many challenges in developing a branding strategy for the MINI in the United States. First, although the brand had a rich history in Great Britain and Europe, only 2% of Americans were familiar with the new MINI when it was first launched. As such, it did not make sense for CP + B to simply copy the branding strategy used for MINI in Europe, which was largely predicated on the automobile’s history on the continent. Second, the budget for the MINI was highly limited. The U.S. market for MINI would only be allocated 20,000 vehicles in the launch year, and this number was not expected to change in the near future. With such a small number of imports, there was also a very tight marketing budget relative to what other automobile companies in the United States would have to work with on such a project. Third, the company risked being viewed as another passing trend, like the reemergence of the Volkswagen Beetle. Fourth, the company risked being viewed as a cute, girly-type car. Further, CP + B struggled to determine both how to incorporate the car’s rich British heritage and how to integrate BMW. Given this long list of challenges, MINI did an outstanding job developing its branding strategy. The overall plan centered on attracting consumers who would be interested in the product for the long-term. CP + B developed a plan to build a strong consumer base that deeply appreciated the product and truly loved the brand. They sought to avoid those marketing strategies that, though they might immediately increase sales a bit, would be based on a more fleeting consumer base. As put in this study, they wanted to be more like Harley-Davidson or Porsche than like the new Volkswagen Beetle or PT Cruiser. They were particularly concerned with managing the perception that this vehicle was a trendy ‘chick’ car that might be used to win over women’s emotions.

The brand essence that MINI created to launch this new vehicle and overcome its many challenges is reflected in the tagline created by CP + B: “let’s motor.” While the word’s “let’s motor” are somewhat abstract, CP + B did a great job of bringing these words to life, allowing them to symbolize the essence of MINI. The phrase itself captures many of the sentiments MINI hoped to capture in its new identity: it brings to mind great vehicle performance, without a connotation of high intensity (let’s motor still seems somewhat playful and fun); it is unique and independent; and it captures the idea that being in a MINI is more about having an ‘experience’ than a tool for getting from A to B. The company released a book that was given to MINI prospects entitled “The Book of Motoring” to help pitch this tagline and to further define the MINI brand around its ‘let’s motor’ essence.

The company used a wide variety of tools to express the personality and essence of its new vehicle. It used creative, eye catching, simple, light-hearted techniques to gain attention and express the brand. It also made sure to focus on the fact that MINI is not a cute little car, but a high performance-operating machine. These techniques in themselves helped define the MINI brand. The creativity and originality of MINI advertising expressed that this was a new, fresh brand for people who were independent and put a lot of consideration into detail. The light-hearted nature of advertising, such as the “Goliath Lost” advertisement, helped this brand stand out in contrast to the other types of trendy, massive SUV vehicles being released at the time. The playful and creative nature of the advertising also appealed to the primary demographic that MINI sought to capture, those between 25-49. MINI was very keen on the types of people likely to purchase their product, and even the...
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