The acrimonious sale of Rover by BMW provided a challenging backdrop to the unveiling of the new MINI.
The UK's love affair with the old car, coupled with a rancorous political atmosphere only a year before the launch, created concerns for the team that would need to be addressed. This became the aim, by portraying the new product as a genuine and modern successor to the classic MINI, with an international appeal that retained its charm and British essence.
For the job, BMW's corporate comms department employed a new in-house PR team, who based the launch on two questions: 'Is MINI the hero?' and 'Has it been done before?' If the answers were 'no' and 'yes', respectively, then the ideas were scrapped.
The launch activity - for the market launch of the car in July 2001 and the subsequent launch of the flagship model, the MINI Cooper S, in June 2002, had to exploit the 'It's a MINI adventure' ad campaign. Ultimately, it had to play a part in generating crucial first sales.
The MINI Cooper UK media launch was based out of town centres, and on fun activities. Special facilities for broadcast and lifestyle media were arranged.
The Sun's motoring editor was given the world's first drive of the entry level vehicle, the MINI One, as well as other levels of exclusive access, and gave an unusual third-party endorsement for the product when interviewed on the ITV News network.
On the launch weekend, 50,000 people visited MINI dealerships, generating 5,000 test drive requests and 1,000 orders.
Coverage in non-motoring publications, plus enthusiasm from the specialist press, has led to healthier than expected sales and a strong foundation for the brand, with purchasers coming from a broad demographic.
COMMENDED - Yorkshire Water, The Hull Job
Recreating the scene from the movie The Italian Job where a MINI speeds through a section of sewage pipe was Yorkshire Water's novel, and cheap, method of communicating the benefits of HumberCare - a £200m sewerage scheme for Hull - beyond the boundaries of the region involved. Teaming up with a local dealership keen to push BMW's new MINI was an inspired move.
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