Since its reintroduction to the US market in the early 2000s, MINI has evolved over three model generations into a higher-performance car, aimed at a more affluent buyer. Today, a base-level Cooper S (the brand’s iconic model) costs almost 25% more than it did at relaunch. Complicating matters, the brand also contends with perceptual issues related to maintenance, perhaps owed to its status as an import. Despite the widely held belief that today’s MINI is the best MINI ever made, the brand faces the challenge of proving its value.
MINI is also up against unfavorable macro trends. Following an inflection point in 2015, when SUVs outsold sedans for the first time, SUVs now make up 47.4% of the US market. Combined with trucks, the segment now accounts for 72% of autos sold. Consumer preferences have shifted emphatically toward larger, more “practical” cars, and for small cars, like MINI, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to capture buyers’ interest.
Our objective with this campaign was to prove MINI’s value and get more prospective car buyers to consider the brand.
Knowing that few consider MINI a peer of Audi or BMW (despite being owned and engineered by BMW), we sought to prove MINI’s quality creds by showing car buyers just how much thought, precision, and care go into making each one.
Using a documentary-style approach, we set out to interview those who are most intimately involved with how a MINI is made: the design and engineering teams in Munich and the production team in Oxford, UK. We set out to capture long-form and short-form content, with our interviews focused on thematic areas of design, production, the driving experience, and the future of the brand. We produced a long-form video on each subject and 12 short-form videos, highlighting individual features, fun facts, and aspects of the design and production processes.
Our communications plan for the campaign was two tiered, with the long-form content aimed at engaging our most enthusiastic fans (i.e., owners and social followers) and the short-form content aimed at enticing prospective customers. We distributed long-form content organically across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well as miniusa.com and our CRM database of MINI owners. To get in front of prospective customers, we put paid media behind our short-form videos on Facebook and Instagram as well as YouTube and programmatic pre-roll. We concluded each one with a CTA to encourage prospective customers to configure a MINI on miniusa.com.
Ultimately, while lots of brands produce this type of content, few brands are quite as distinctive as MINI. With MINI Making an Icon, we brought the bold, unconventional, and iconoclastic spirit of the brand to life in a way that proved, to prospective customers, that MINI really has quality of a different kind.
The campaign succeeded in lifting consideration among our target audience, with a YouTube Brand Lift Study showing that pre-roll video affected a 1.9% lift in consideration. No other campaign we ran in 2020 was successful at impacting this metric. The campaign outperformed benchmark video-completion rates in programmatic pre-roll, on Facebook, and on Instagram. Facebook and Instagram units were also very successful at driving traffic to miniusa.com, with our most successful ad outperforming our benchmark click-through rate by almost 15x.
Though perhaps less attributable to this campaign alone, MINI also gained ground on a few other high-level metrics. MINI saw an increase in consideration of just above 30% over the course of 2020 (as measured in our brand tracker) and exceeded YoY benchmarks in Q4 web traffic and December leads.
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