Mini Builds Expansive Campaign Around Quirky Webisodes

'Hammer & Coop' Blitz Covers Traditional, Nontraditional Landscapes

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DETROIT ( -- Taking a lesson from parent BMW, Mini USA is introducing a series of online short films that track the adventures of a character named Hammer and his sidekick Coop, a Brit-speaking Mini.
The 'Hammer & Coop' theme is being played up in various nontraditional channels as well as in out-of-home and magazine ads.
The 'Hammer & Coop' theme is being played up in various nontraditional channels as well as in out-of-home and magazine ads.

The "Hammer & Coop" project, directed by Todd Phillips ("Old School" and "Starsky & Hutch"), is also spun out across various nontraditional media: 15-second video-on-demand spots for mobile handsets, "Find Coop" contests in Second Life, a "Hammer & Coop" MySpace page, iPod video downloads and a red-carpet movie-premier-type event in Manhattan's Union Square.

Hanging from billboards
There's also a quirky outdoor campaign in three major markets: a mannequin of Hammer "parachuting" in and hanging from billboards and a life-size, fiberglass version of Mini. More traditional billboards in 80 markets will show the two characters under headlines such as "Kick Some Asphalt."

Like its parent, Mini USA is no slouch in using nontraditional media; Mini returned to the U.S. in 2003 after a 17-year hiatus with a much-talked-about campaign that included an actual Mini driven on top of an SUV. Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, created the launch campaign but eventually quit the account to work for Volkswagen of America in 2005.

Trudy Hardy, marketing manager of the Mini, said the "Hammer & Coop" campaign for the redone 2007 Mini is aimed at men 25 to 54 years old. "But this will have a very broad appeal."

Males prefer performance
Mini buyers are 55% male, and more men buy the performance -- and therefore more expensive -- Mini Cooper S version, Ms. Hardy said.

Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Sausalito, Calif., which won the account in a review, created the latest blitz. The brand spent just $11 million in measured media in the first nine months of 2006, according to TNS Media Reporting.

Mini said it sold 39,171 cars in the U.S. in 2006 compared to 40,820 the prior year.

James McDowell, Mini's marketing VP and a former VP-marketing of BMW of North America, predicted 2007 would be the brand's best for U.S. sales.

Innovative mag effort
In addition to the outdoor and online components, there's also a heavy old-media presence, albeit with a new twist: The car that was once a Playboy centerfold took its case to publishers in seeking their help in developing "Hammer & Coop" tie-ins that fit their books, Ms. Hardy said. Rolling Stone and Premier have created "fake" front covers on their back covers that promote a fictitious "Hammer & Coop" movie. The 10 or so pages in the back of the magazines will integrate each title's normal features, written and designed by their staff, but with editorial about "Hammer & Coop." In certain areas, Premier will put the "back" cover facing buyers in magazine stands.

Men's Health will integrate "Hammer & Coop" exercises on its monthly workout poster. The March issues of Maxim, Stuff and Blender will contain an eight-page fashion spread of Hammer and Coop shot by Maxim's fashion director, Stan Williams.

Ms. Hardy said the six online episodes will eventually be available on DVD, along with a mock music video of Asia's 1980s hit "Heat of the Moment," which is featured in the final webisode.

A teaser movie trailer, which appeared to be promoting the "Hammer & Coop" action flick, broke in 1,000 theaters earlier this month and encouraged viewers to visit, where the same trailer was shown (Mini wasn't named in the trailer). The trailer will expand to 1,900 theaters through March, although the rest of the campaign runs through May.
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