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The MINI “Defy Labels” Ad Campaign

MINI Defy Labels Campaign

MINI officially announced their Super Bowl ad which has already been given a sneak peek online.

An interesting note: there are actually two slightly different versions of the ad.  In version 1, Harvey Keitel says, “This car doesn’t care what you call it.”  In version 2, which MINI USA posted to Twitter, Keitel says, “This is a car that doesn’t give a damn what you call it.”

Version 1:

Version 2:

MINI USA also released a behind-the-scenes video.

From BMW Group PressClub Global:

Woodcliff Lake, NJ. As more than 100 million viewers around the world prepare to tune into the Super Bowl on February 7, MINI is unveiling its star-studded 30-second spot, set to air in the third quarter of the year’s biggest night in television advertising. The ad is already available on the campaign’s microsite at MINIUSA.com/defylabels.

The ad, created by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP), embraces many of the labels the brand has experienced over the years with a very powerful message: it doesn’t care what you call it. “Defy Labels,” has its roots in the fact that everyone and everything is labeled but how you handle those labels is what matters. With defiance at its core, the campaign inspires people to shed the labels society has placed upon them and instead define themselves.

“Ever since the first Mini was built in 1959, it has been labeled as one thing or another. It’s small. It’s cute,” said Tom Noble, department head, MINI Brand Communications, MINI USA. “This campaign acknowledges those labels in a very authentic way while simultaneously showing people MINI is more than that. With the launch of the new Clubman, our brand is growing up, our products are more sophisticated, and its time to reset the conversation.”

The brand worked with an ensemble cast of athletes and celebrities to help start that conversation. Staying true to the nature of the campaign, MINI wanted to include personalities that had a relationship to the brand and could also speak authentically about the topic of overcoming labels. The spot includes tennis player Serena Williams, soccer player Abby Wambach, rapper T-Pain, baseball player Randy Johnson, skateboard legend Tony Hawk, and actor Harvey Keitel. Each also filmed a series of long-form interviews sharing their own perspectives about labels that are available on the campaign microsite at MINIUSA.com/defylabels.

In addition to the celebrities and athletes listed above, the “Defy Labels” advertisement will feature non-celebrity MINI owners and members of the MINI John Cooper Works racing team, who also choose to be a bit different and break convention.

“This powerful concept leverages the brand’s new sophisticated positioning, with a little bit of the MINI attitude that’s always been there,” said John Butler, chief creative officer, BSSP. “It goes beyond a typical celebrity endorsement. This creative is all about not letting others define you, or for that matter, what you choose to drive. It’s about never giving others that power over you.”

MINI product placement in music video

MINI is well-known for its product placements in newspapers (Weekly World News), movies (The Italian Job and Marmaduke), and live events. Recently, MINI has moved into music videos.  From the New York Times article “Product Placement Grows in Music Videos”:

Atlantic’s video for “Billionaire,” the hit song by Travie McCoy that features Bruno Mars, includes a paid placement of a Mini Cooper. The two artists ride in the car and then Bruno Mars gives it away to a man looking for a ride. The video has been viewed more than nine million times on YouTube.

But the number of views of any one video remains unpredictable, and that’s one reason Kathy Findling, president of Creative Entertainment Services, a marketing firm that specializes in product placement, said that her company did few music video deals. It’s easier to estimate the number of viewers of a coming television show, she said.

The music video deals often develop because a brand is already associated with an artist — by sponsoring a concert tour, for example. Each deal comes with a degree of risk, though.

Mr. Feldman said it was important to the label and its artists that the video avoided being seen as a commercial for any product (aside from the artists themselves, of course).

In the case of the “Billionaire” video, Mr. Feldman said the Mini Cooper placement worked because a car was needed, and while it was in several shots, the car itself was not the main attraction.

The musicians have the final say over whether a product can be included, he said, and Atlantic has turned down opportunities because the placement would not have appeared to be natural.

Owen Shively, who handles the music deals for UPP Entertainment Marketing, a product placement firm in California, said it was in the brand’s interest to make the placement look as seamless as possible, too.

“There aren’t the same restrictions anymore, but you don’t want to do something blatant or overt,” Mr. Shively said. “You don’t want to do something where the viewer says, ‘That doesn’t make sense.’ ”