Olympic boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields has dealt with a bevy of labels in her life.
Some labeled her ugly, while others said the native of Flint, Mich., has too much muscle and is too tough.
But in a new ad campaign, Mini USA says the only label that matters is "Olympian."
Ms. Shields, who captured a gold medal during the London games in 2012, is one of eight current and former U.S. Olympians featured in the latest round of Mini's "Defy Labels" campaign. The Defy Labels promotion began in January in the lead-up to the Super Bowl this year and was highlighted by a star-studded 30-second ad during the game.
The Olympic-themed marketing push begins today with the digital release of several unscripted long-form interviews with the Olympians.
Ms. Shields is joined in the campaign by beach volleyball player Jake Gibb; tennis star Serena Williams, who is back after starring in the Super Bowl spot; rugby player Carlin Isles; weightlifter Morghan King; swimmer Cullen Jones; fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad; and boxer Carlos Balderas.
A new 30-second spot hits the airwaves in the first week of August just before the Olympics, which begin on Aug. 5 with an opening ceremony. The commercial will air during Olympic broadcasts.
The athletes confront different labels in the campaign. For example, Ms. Muhammad's label is "Muslim," while Mr. Balderas' label is "immigrant."
Some of the labels are relevant in today's politically charged environment.
"Everyday you wake up, there's another issue being raised that has relevance to this storyline," Tom Noble, Mini USA's head of marketing, told Automotive News. "Hopefully, it hits the right tone. If [people] are labeled, look beyond that label to see what's really there."
Connecting to the car
The theme of labels connects to Mini as well.
People may think Minis are too small, but Mr. Noble said they could be surprised at the interior space and quality after sitting in one. Or some may underestimate the power of a Mini, but their minds could change once they take one for a spin.
Mini will spearhead the marketing blitz, but dealerships will also be involved with likely special test-drive events around the Olympics and Olympic messaging on their websites, according to Mr. Noble.
This is Mini's second Olympic-focused ad push. The brand ran its "Win Small" campaign during the 2012 games, which told viewers to dream big no matter what their size.
When looking at the diversity of Mini owners, Mr. Noble said the 2016 campaign's focus on overcoming labels resonates. He made a few stops on the "Mini Takes the States" cross-country road trip this month for owners and noticed that it was a melting pot of people from all walks of life, he said.
"The one thing you realize when you look at Mini owners is it's really hard to label them. What is a demographic of Mini owners? It would be really hard to pin it," Mr. Noble said. "They're unique individuals who don't want to be labeled … The more unique you are, the more accepted you are from a Mini point of view."
Vince Bond Jr. is a writer for Automotive News.