Any parenting book will tell you, introducing a new sibling is never easy. So when Mini USA prepared to bring the Clubman into the clan, there were some unique considerations.
Since its introduction in 2002, the modern Mini Cooper and its drop-top counterpart have become style icons. That bulldog bearing, piercing bi-xenon headlights and cheeky (if optional) Union Jack are just some of the reasons the Mini is easily identified on sight.
While there’s no doubt who the father is, the Clubman is different enough to suggest the mold was altered. It includes a split barn door; a fifth door to get passengers into the rear seat; more rear legroom; more trunk space; and higher gas mileage. Then there’s the size, which raised the question of how a Mini with 9.5 extra inches and 200 additional pounds could have the same go-kart handling as the original.
Enter Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. The Sausalito, Calif., agency, which has held the Mini USA account since December 2005, added the international Clubman launch in November 2006, following a shootout with seven of Mini’s agencies from around the world. The independent was charged with launching the new model in more than 15 international markets and to a fan base loyal to the Mini’s original styling. But would consumers reject it as the Mini family’s red-headed stepchild?
In March 2002, BMW’s Mini Cooper touched down in the home of the Big Gulp, super-size fries and SUVs. The British classic, introduced in 1959 during a European gas crisis, had been revamped with sleek lines, bold colors and a stylish nod to its swinging ’60s past. Importantly, it also had a relatively low-entry price point. But the Mini Cooper’s Lilliputian dimensions might have sunk it in a country enamored with Suburbans.
By urging consumers to “Think small” — via humorous print and outdoor ads, and guerrilla tactics like mounting a Mini on a Hummer around the U.S. — Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami gave the brand cachet among the urban creative class and self-styled nonconformists. Brand awareness grew to 53 percent in December 2002 from 12 percent in the fall of 2001, and Mini sold 30,000 units by the end of March 2003, its first year on the market, according to the BMW Press Club. The Mini also won a slew of awards and “created a new segment in the marketplace: premium small car,” says Todd Turner, president of consultancy Car Concepts in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
In December 2005, Butler took over the account from Crispin and flush sales continued. In 2005, Mini introduced its convertible to warm reviews. In 2007, the Cooper was redesigned to include more comfortable seating and a more efficient engine.
In light of the Mini Cooper’s unique styling and brand personality, Butler found itself walking a tightrope for the Clubman, priced slightly higher than the Mini Cooper at $20,850. “We didn’t want to lose the soul of that brand,” says Chris Cardinal, group business director for Butler. “We had to make sure people recognized that this is still a Mini.”
The agency eschewed the concept of overtly selling the Clubman’s practical aspects. “These are things better communicated on the dealer level,” says agency CCO John Butler. Instead, it focused on two approaches: introducing the Clubman as the latest member of the Mini series, and acknowledging it as the family oddball, showcasing the new design while emphasizing qualities shared with its predecessor — frisky handling, unique styling and a fun vibe.
“[We were] targeting the same folks who had embraced Mini from the start — open-minded, trendsetting creative types who want to be seen as unique,” Butler says.
The shop also addressed the interests of the Mini’s varied audience, says Greg Stern, CEO of Butler. “We have first-time car owners and 75-year-old grandpas with a garage full of cars,” says Stern.
“We definitely match media and messages to the different segments — car enthusiasts, design conscious, etcetera,” adds Butler.
The agency issued a multi-tiered campaign rolled out over five months. To spark word of mouth among trendsetters, the shop in December released a pre-launch print insert in magazines like Fader and Paper. Touching on the all-in-the-family theme, the ads positioned “The Other Mini” among other eccentrics — a punk rock pip-squeak, for example — in otherwise square family portraits. Meanwhile, online videos aimed at design-savvy early adopters included one that animated the car as drawn on an Etch-A-Sketch. Another spate of online videos used the Sesame Street song, “One of These Things (Is Not Like the Others).”
Two months later, the agency — aiming for both enthusiasts and mainstream audiences — issued a buzz-building birth announcement using outdoor and commuter ads in five major U.S. markets as well as nationwide print. The billboard and station domination ads, tagged “Zig. Zag. Zug,” introduced the new Mini alongside its brothers. The triptych featured the Cooper (Zig) the Convertible (Zag) and the Clubman (Zug), with its barn doors prominently displayed. Meanwhile, inserts in national magazines defined Zug as “to do something different” and “to be unlike others.”
Ads that followed jettisoned “Zig. Zag. Zug” in favor of a solo turn for the Clubman. In the U.S., a targeted two-week national cable TV run introduced it as “The Other Mini” via two high-concept creative ads. “Pinball” spotlights the Clubman’s rear doors by using them as the flippers on a massive pinball game with human obstacles. The ad was filmed in the Czech Republic, a boon when it came to casting the spot. “We wanted the clone-like people to move very mechanically so, at one point … we were bringing in local break-dancers. ‘Popping’ and ‘The Robot’ are alive and well in the Czech Republic,” says Butler associate cd Steve Mapp.
A combination of print, TV and online ran in more than 15 markets internationally. An interactive banner ad based on the TV spot allowed consumers to flip the “pinball” doors and a free downloadable Wii game soon followed. “Instead of trying to push the consumer to us, we found media that they were already engaged with,” Butler says.
A second spot, “Clubmanitis,” shows a Norman Rockwellian doctor’s visit. When the doc peeks inside the boy’s ears, he sees a Clubman speeding around a track, a nod to its Mini handling.
“Everything we did needed to build on this unconventional design and attitude vs. practicality,” Butler adds. “This was critical because every early adaptor becomes a living, breathing ad for the brand in a category where Mini is outspent by competitors.”
2008 has been a very good year for Mini. Six years after the brand’s U.S. launch the automotive landscape is very different. High gas prices have chipped away at the SUV market and environmental concerns have turned small cars into status symbols. The Oxford, England, plant is running at capacity and dealers have very little or no inventory, according to a rep at BMW.
“We’re in the middle of a perfect storm,” Cardinal says.
And while market forces deserve some credit, during the two-week TV campaign, traffic on the U.S. site spiked, says Kate Alini, a rep for Mini. In May, the final month of the Clubman campaign, Mini sold over 6,300 cars, up 53 percent over the same period in 2007, says Alini. Online sales leads have tripled.
To date, the Clubman has accounted for 21 percent of sales, Alini says. And in July, when Mini sold 5,063 cars, 37 percent of them were Clubmans, according to Mini USA.
Did it work?
Sales are up and critics are enamored. “Those who feared the Clubman would be less Mini and therefore less fun have nothing to fear.
Mini is a product line that is related to automobile industry. It is a British Marque that is owned by its parent company BMW. It was originally iconic small car that was manufactured between years 1959 and 2000 by British Motor Corporation. Mini has been about passion, inspiration and new ideas and this is one of the main reasons for its success in the market. Some of its competitors are as follows-
Product in the Marketing Mix Of Mini Cooper
Mini has been a renowned brand in automobile sectors and its models include
- Austin Seven
Performance versions of above-mentioned models use brand name Cooper because of its partnership with John Cooper who was a legend in racing circuit. Since the year 2001, Mini models have several variants like One (entry-level), John Cooper Works (high-end), Cooper S (sporty) and Cooper. Hatchback Mini was launched in the year 2001 and was titled Mini but was available in several variations like One, Cooper S and Cooper. In numerous European markets, it was powered by a Tritec engine of 1.4 litres a but everywhere else 1.6-litre engines was used. First Cooper and then Cooper S variants followed and they were its sportier version.
Next came to John Cooper Works or commonly called JCW. A one-off model for racing called Mini Cooper S Works was also launched and it had several modifications like uprated suspension, air filter and racing exhaust for better performance levels. In the year 2004, a convertible model was launched with Cooper S, Cooper and One variant. In the year 2007, a limited edition was launched of Mini Cooper S Sidewalk Convertible.
Place in the Marketing Mix Of Mini Cooper :
Mini models were manufactured at two places Cowley and Longbridge but later it was centred only on Longbridge. After a change in its ownership Cowley plant was demolished, and a new manufacturing plant was created. In year 2006 it was announced by BMW that future engines were to be manufactured in United Kingdom once again, thus making it a British product. Final assembling of the parts was to take place at Oxford and its body pressings were to take place at Swindon Pressings Ltd Subsidiary in Swindon. Mini vehicles are sold in various parts of the world and in year 2011, 285,000 vehicles were sold globally.
United States has been the biggest market for Mini Cooper vehicles and its other top markets are Germany and United Kingdom. Distribution channel of Mini Cooper consists of dealers which do a fantastic job of supplying different products through best possible means.
Price in the Marketing Mix Of Mini Cooper :
Mini has kept a reasonable pricing policy for its Mini Cooper variants. It wants to compete successfully with its rival companies and hence have kept their price levels in similar bracket as those of its competitors. Its competitive pricing policy along with its penetration policy has resulted in good sales for the brand. Mini Cooper was designed to become an economical vehicle but it has been projected as a premium car in consumer market that is reasonable priced. Its affordable rates have helped the brand to garner better revenues.
Promotion in the Marketing Mix Of Mini Cooper :
Mini Cooper has been receiving publicity through several trophies and associations. Monte Carlo Rally has been won by Mini Cooper S thrice in years 1967, 1965 and 1964. In year 2003, Mini Cooper was publicized in a popular movie The Italian Job. In the same year, Mini Cooper/Cooper S was the recipient of North American Car of the Year trophy. In year 2005, its convertible model won trophy for Most Spirited/ Entry-level category.
Mini Cooper has always used publicity to promote its name and products. Its ad campaigns have been broadcast on television and featured in magazines and newspaper. In year 2007, a video series titled Hammer & Coop was released as an ad campaign to promote visibility. As part and parcel of a campaign a movie titled Counterfeit Mini Coopers was released. In New Zealand brand has been a sponsor for Mad Men, a program on television.