MINI USA After working together for almost five years, MINI USA’s advertising agency, Scheid, Roberts, and Reicher (SRR) decided to resign the MINI account in order to pursue a larger account with Volkswagen. MINI USA had developed a significant successful client-advertising agency relationship with SRR since the launch of MINI Cooper in USA, and MINI’s advertising had been highly unconventional. For Trudy Hardy, marketing manager for MINI USA, the first challenge was starting over and finding a new but unique advertising agency before the end of the year.
The selection process would be the crucial part. This analysis will discuss about the development of MINI and SRR, the alternatives of campaign strategy, and the recommendations to the MINI USA. For the last 40 years, MINI has become a cultural icon in all of those automobiles. Originally, MINI was deigned for those people who seeking frugal transport. After the acquisition of BMW, the new MINI model had been designed with a more evolutionary approach in terms of design combined with BMW’s reputation for delivering high-performance, driver-oriented cars.
However, MINI was still seen as a less expensive car to compete at luxury end of a maturing world market. Before the official launch of US’s Marketing, plans were to position the MINI as a Premium small car because MINI Cooper was smaller and more expensive than some of the better-established compact cars made by Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. According the initial MINI marketing material and media reports, the MINI Cooper was described as “fashionable accessory to an affluent, urban-hipster lifestyle. This report suggested that the target market for the MINI was not limited to a specific demographic group or socioeconomic class but rather was more of a lifestyle choice or mind-set. From this report, MINI and BMW AG decided that the psychographic might have a significant impact on the purchase of a MINI. Also, the new MINI should be marketed as a particular segment of car buys. By allowing buyers of MINI to add optional features and color schemes and limiting MINI’s advertising to traditional media such as television and radio, MINI was reinforcing the image of its otential buyers seemed less interested in being part of the mainstream. In 2001, SRR become the ad agency for MINI. The perfect relation between MINI and SRR enable SRR grew to more than 300 employees from fewer than 50. And MINI’s unit sales from 24,590 in 2002 increased to 40. 820 units in just 4 years. In addition to the strong sales figures, a consumer survey indicated that brand awareness for the MINI among the car-buying public was as high as 25%. This win-win situation was driven by a lot to the innovative and classic advertisement campaign produced by MINI and SRR.
MINI and SRR’s advertising since the launch of the Cooper had been highly unconventional: they insisted using print and nontraditional marketing technique such as outdoor marketing instead of using television or radio, which was not cost effective. Meanwhile, they developed a booklet, The Book of Motoring, convey the message that what does MINI meant. Also, the SRR and the MINI marketing team designed a series of promotional events and publicity stunts to create additional buzz for the brand.
For Trudy Hardy, there are several ways to rescue the jeopardy situation: The first choice would be try their best to find a new advertising agency. MINI could choose if they want to follow the old marketing strategy or go to a completely new one base on the selection process. The problem is MINI might not be able find any agency could be either follow the old marketing strategy or contribute a new idea. The second way for MINI is develop their own Marketing & advertising department. The MINI had been launched in US for almost five years.
The crew of MINI should have a better understanding of MINI cooper than any other advertising agency. The in-house marketing department would be able to convey the spirit and message of MINI perfectly. However, developing an in-house department is not easy. Company has to spend a large amount of money on some specify talented people just for one –time project. And also, MINI didn’t have enough time to build a team in short period of time. Lastly, trying to get SRR back would be a way to solve the problem. SRR decided to resign to pursue a larger account with a competing German automobile manufacturer.
If SRR is just for a larger account or a higher compensation, MINI could raise the price or compensation for SRR. If SRR is for another reason, MINI could also negotiate with SRR and try to figure out what is the real reason and get SRR back. From these three choices, the first one would have less impact on MINI’s future business. First of all, MINI knows its product better than anybody else, and MINI cooper is such a unique product. As long as MINI is able to convey the core value of MINI cooper and the way they want to market itself, it shouldn’t that hard for other agencies to catch the idea.
Also, MINI could change the service any time. From the cost’s perspective, the first choice would cost less than any other options. Developing its own in-house marketing department or raising the compensation to get SRR back will case a significant high cost for MINI USA. Usually the average time of cooperation between companies and their advertising agencies is two to three year. This is just a normal business transition. MINI should focus on their future marketing strategy and how to convey this to the potential advertising agencies.
What if MINI selected to find a new advertising agency, however, they found that none of those potential could meet MINI’s requirement? MINI should also have a contingency in case they couldn’t find the advertising agency or they picked a agency could not make a good campaign or promotion. I will have two suggestions: one is keep using the old marketing strategies had been proved their successes until they find a new advertising agency could meet their requirement. Or to brainstorm and come up with some creative but less cost ideas by MINI USA’s own marketing department and take advantage of those unconventional outlets.