Mini USA Moves TV, Radio Buying to McCann

Automaker Follows Parent BMW's Media Agency Pick Without a Review

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Mini USA has shifted its national and spot TV- and radio-buying business to Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann without a review.

Trudy Hardy, marketing communications manager at Mini USA, said the brand made the move to take advantage of BMW's group buying power. In May, Mini's parent company awarded planning and buying duties for its national and regional dealer groups to Universal McCann.

Mini took a backseat during that review, deciding not to be included in the process. "We wanted to wait a few months to evaluate [Universal McCann]," Ms. Hardy said. Apparently, it liked what it saw from the agency.

Universal McCann referred calls for comment to the client.

Ms. Hardy said Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Mini's creative agency of record, retains planning duties on all of Mini's media and retains buying responsibilities for print and online. Out of Home Pitch buys Mini's out-of-home media, she added.

In 2008, Mini spent nearly $20 million on measured media, and it has spent almost $7 million in the first six months of 2009. Mini sold 34,996 new cars in the U.S. in the first nine months of the year, a 14% drop from the same period a year ago, but it was less severe than the total industry drop of 27%, according to Automotive News. In comparison, Toyota had the nation's best-selling car, the Camry, tallying sales of 264,351 units through September, though that was 26% lower than a year ago.

Universal McCann is also said by industry executives to be one of the shops talking to Chrysler as the embattled automaker gets set to review its media business. Last month, Universal McCann was handed Applebee's $150 million-plus media planning and buying account, also without a review, from incumbent Publicis Groupe's Starcom.

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