BMW Awards Mini to Crispin

ATLANTA-Crispin Porter + Bogusky will position BMW’snew Mini subcompact as anenthusiast’s icon, much like a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

The Miami shop won the estimated $40 million car account after a review that included Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners and sister Maxcomm agency Margeotes/Fertitta + Partners, both in New York.

Richard Roth Associates in Chappaqua, N.Y., conducted the review, which began last fall with 20 contenders.

CP+B, by all accounts, won the business by positioning the Mini not as a utilitarian vehicle like the VW “Bug,” but as an automotive icon comparable to the Mustang or Porsche 911.

“We helped BMW understand the Mini couldn’t take over an automotive category,” said CP+B president Jeff Hicks. “It’s about exhilaration, just like Harley-Davidson motorcycles.”

Strategically, the shop built a case for branding the Mini as a “must-have” vehicle for the automotive enthusiast niche. “We researched icon cars,” said Hicks. “And we presented the common routes leading to icondom: performance, shape, broad appeal.”

Developed in 1959 in the U.K. (it continues to rank among Europe’s most popular vintage cars), the Mini was sold in the U.S. from 1960-67. About 12,000 of the pint-sized sports sedans are still on the road.

“The Mini has a certain DNA to it,” said Kerri Martin, marketing communications manager for the automaker’s U.S. division in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. “The CP+B culture and thinking matched our brand.”

According to agency chairman Chuck Porter, only 10 percent of U.S. consumers are familiar with the Mini—a welcome opportunity to strategically position the car in the marketplace.

The Mini Cooper and high-performance Mini Cooper S debut in the U.S. next spring. A European launch is planned for later this year.

Another selling point, according to BMW’s Martin, is Americans’ increasing frustration with lumbering, gas-guzzling and potentially unsafe SUVs. “The time is right for a small, premium class car,” she said. Minis are priced at $18,000.

Jung von Matt in Hamburg, Germany, handles global marketing.

As part of the brand’s worldwide marketing strategy, partners from each market will contribute to a global idea pool. Said Martin, “What works in Spain may also work in the U.S., and what Crispin creates might work well in Germany.”