Not so long ago, MINI asked itself two important questions:
-Who Are Our Customers?
-And What Are We To Them?
The answer lies in the high degree of correlation between both of them.
Ever since MINI was conceived, it was different. A wild flower among shrubs, a peacock among pigeons, it has always stood out. And so has its customers. They are individuals with colorful personalities, whose idea of fun is playing “antakshri” with strangers in a traffic jam. Both believe in originality and much to society’s amusement and their nonchalance, they are called NOT NORMAL.
The vehicle for all these activities has been rather as radical as the company itself, ‘Experiential Marketing’. Unexpected, Unconventional and Interactive, the campaigns revolve around the customers, making them the star of the plot. Conjuring both emotions and logics, such gimmicks create an engaging and thought-provoking episode which not only surprises the ‘target’ but also leaves an indelible mark on him.
With the NOT NORMAL campaign, MINI seems to be having its pie and eating it too. It has kept its marketing costs about one-fourth of its rivals, yet given the potential customers one after the other enchanting experiences to prove that it’s made just for them. Expensive television advertisements have been replaced with live, quirky experiential campaigns, artful publicity stunts; all covered extensively on multiple social media platforms.
Now let us dissect three of the most successful NOT NORMAL campaigns using Guerilla Marketing by MINI in ascending order.
Take A Ride On The MINI-Coaster
“It’s not who you are underneath but what you do that defines you.” The beauty of MINI is that on paper, it’s got everything wrong; Transverse engine, front wheel drive…But when you sit inside the retro cockpit-like interiors, give the spritely engine a little throttle and zoom in between the twisty by-lanes of your neighborhood, there’s no way the child inside you is going back to that boring sedan.
The ‘Mad Men’ in charge of MINI wanted pedestrians to vicariously experience this feeling. 3 MINIs were converted into roller coaster carts complete with 2 bucket seats on their roofs enforced by roll bars. They then took to the streets in a roller-coaster like formation with actors seated on top. MINI’s near perfect handling meant that the formation could drive in an accurate zigzag fashion, with the patrons swinging their arms and head along the cool breeze, in the winding roads of Toronto.
-Euphoria on the road, with excited pedestrians looking in awe and clicking pictures in excitement.
-1.5 Lakh YouTube hits within one week.
-MINI’s cool quotient quadrupled.
What this means:
-The car is made for only one thing. To have FUN.
-Tiny in size, this small wonder is big on thrills.
Look Who’s Driving That MINI
Tired of seeing Mr. Bean as the unofficial brand ambassador, the creative geniuses at MINI decided to experiment with certain exotic elements which are out of this world (pun intended). After extensive research and deep thinking, they finally zeroed in those large headed owl-eyed green creatures from the unknown, aka, “Aliens” to be their new brand ambassadors. Why? Because humans as brand ambassadors is too mainstream!
Two slackers were given “Alien” masks and keys to the brand new Countryman. To make sure no one missed the car, a silver UFO prop was fitted at the roof. They drove slowly through busy streets and intersections acting all “alien”. People stopped, took notice, clicked pictures and had fun. And a campaign spartan in scale but brilliant in execution came to an end.
-Just one day of driving resulted in major hoopla on the streets. Pedestrians swarmed to the car to click pictures, make videos and try and interact with the friendly visitors.
-All these photos and videos went straight to the social networking platforms which meant consumer generated buzz and word-of-mouth publicity.
-Quirky and Eccentric; two new archetypes added to the brand.
-MINI successfully targeted a new customer base!
What this means:
-It’s important to stray from the ‘safe’ path and go crazy once in a while.
-Customers connect more with brands which indulge in humor and controlled insanity.
-If aliens can look good driving a MINI, why won’t you?!
-If and when aliens invade the Earth, MINI owners will be spared from their wrath!
A BIG Salute to MINI owners
To some it’s a fashion statement; to others a toy. Some call it a means to be different; some think it’s impractical. But, they all swear to one thing, the joy of being inside a MINI. The moment you step inside, you are transported to a different era, absorbed into its rich heritage and welcomed by amazed eyes of others. Everything just makes you feel good about yourself!
The creative guys at MINI decided to reinforce this feeling through a simple and sweet gesture…off course MINI style. Multiple real-time operated Digital Billboards were placed at various vantage points on a road. Highly trained spotters would identify vehicle type, color and driver gender from a distance and start communicating tailored messages, via live digital billboards.
As part of the ‘Celebrity Treatment’, drivers were offered free fuel fill-ups, wash-ups and mechanical check ups. Even luckier drivers got to take away freshly prepared gourmet treats. To top it all, some lovebirds even got to take away flowers to surprise their partners!
-One week of ‘Saluting’ made 1941 customers happier and loyal.
-Earned a cool feature in owners’ future stories for their children. “Kids, there was a time when MINI saluted me…”
-Heart burn for all those who just bought a Ford Focus or Mazda 3.
What this means:
-What you buy is not just a car, but a MINI experience; an entry into the ‘Most Valuable Customers club’.
-We often forget what brands say or do, but never how they make us feel.
[The article has been written by Vatsal Sethi. He is presently pursuing his Bachelor of Business Studies from Keshav Mahavidyalaya, University of Delhi.]