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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Mini Madness

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ever drive past a billboard advertising a product you use and feel a surge of pride? "Hey, that's my cell phone"; or what about, "Hey, that's my car."

Mini Cooper is banking on it. Starting this week, four American Cities (New York, Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco) will test run Mini Cooper billboards that send personal messages to Cooper owners as they drive by. The billboards use Radio Frequency Identification (or RFID) technology to send a signal from your key to the billboard. When it receives the signal, the billboard will flash something like, "Tom: king of the road." Mini owners completed surveys that will provide fodder for message content.

A lot of discussion about the billboards is centered on the safety issue. However, NPH is more interested in the marketing tactic itself. It's a great example of using a brand to create what Douglas Rushkoff calls "social currency." A brand offers itself to consumers as a way to belong to the community of its users. In an increasingly isolated culture, brands as social currency provide an acceptance and belonging that most people are not getting from traditional vendors of such things: neighborhood, civic involvement, church, even family. So the brand positions itself as your community.

While the billboards are aimed at current owners, they're no doubt part of a strategy to attract new consumers. "See," they say, "You could be on the inside of this. You could be part of the billboard message community." All you have to do is sell your soul to the brand.

Note: in Get Back in The Box, Rushkoff singles out the makers of the Mini Cooper for marketing practices that are exemplary, especially when compared to the folks who redesigned the VW Bug. What he found good about the Mini was the attention paid, first of all, to the quality of the product and not the slickness of a marketing campaign. In fact, the only marketing BMW did for the Mini Cooper was to get it in a movie ("The Italian Job") and do drive their cars around on the tops of semi trucks.

NPH wonders if this new step is in continuity with those exemplary practices or a departure from them.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:16 AM


Excellent blog and thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts here. I am putting together a collection of photos and information on the Mini line up and so far I managed to cover some of the models, and you will find some cool Mini Cooper S photos, Mini Cooper convertible pictures and high resolution Mini Moke photos. I hope you’ll find the website to be interesting, in case you want to pay it a visit.
Enjoy your day!

Michael R.
Webmaster, All-car-photos.com
commented by Blogger Allcarphotos, 12:16 AM  

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