Mini Makes Big Marketing Inroads

ATLANTA One year after its U.S. launch, BMW’s Mini brand awareness has quadrupled, according to the automaker. Speaking at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit today, client general manager Jack Pitney added that sales for the car have exceeded expectations by 50 percent.

Reminding his listeners that the car had launched without a national television campaign, Pitney credited a combination of innovative marketing and enthusiastic dealer participation, saying that brand awareness grew to 53 percent by December 2002, five months after the car launched in the U.S.

“Our brand awareness continues to grow steadily despite being nearly unknown less than two years ago,” said Pitney. “The U.S. is now Mini’s largest market outside of the U.K., where it has enjoyed icon status for over 40 years.”

Maxxcom’s Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami, which handles the car’s estimated $40 million account, won the business in February 2001 when it pitched the retro British car as an icon, much like the Volkswagen Beetle or the Ford Mustang.

One of CP+B’s first pre-launch promotions was to perch the Mini atop SUVs and parked in the stands at National Football League games.

“It was important for us to identify the Mini customer,” Pitney said, “since Mini’s appeal is not limited to a demographic boundary but to psychographic qualities.”

Marketing, Pitney said, had to be relevant to all. Owners and devotees range in age from 15 to 97, a fact he discovered on Mini’s active Web site chat room.