Day 14 — MINI Scores Big By Going Small(er) And Low Key

9 Aug

And we have a winner for the best product placement at the 2012 Olympics in London… BMW’s Mini Cooper. Chevrolet, take note; while you’re spending hundreds of millions, the iconic Mini is holding classes in how it’s done: low-key and with class.

Also in this post:
P&G shows NBC how it’s done

Product placement is the gold mine of marketing these days—that is, placing your product in a beloved program or movie where it becomes an unsung star. Viewers see it over and over, cementing the brand’s status.

Quarter-scale genius. See it in action here.

At the London 2012 games, BMW has scored a one-two combination. A fleet of 160 electric Mini Coopers zip athletes and officials between venues. But the real star has become a new model that you’ll never see on the streets, the mini Mini.

The quarter-scale orange and blue remote control cars can be seen dozens of times during track and field coverage, zipping round the field returning javelins, discs, and shots to the athletes. They’ve garnered global news coverage, even as Usain Bolt and others demand the spotlight.

Most amazingly of all, there isn’t a single BMW or Mini Cooper logo on either the full-size car or the mini Mini. Can you imagine any other brand supplying a fleet of products and not demanding a logo placement?

Back in 1996, Chevrolet insisted on blasting its bow-tie logo into the opening ceremonies of the Atlanta games, even as its pickup trucks were racing around the stadium floor. Mini doesn’t need it. The cars are iconic. When your product is instantly recognizable you don’t worry about bashing the public over the head with your message.

But since the remote control cars grabbed my attention, I took time to find out a few details. There are only 3 of them, and they weigh 55 pounds apiece. The sun roof retracts to allow field judges to place the equipment, and the cars sport heavy-duty shock absorbers to deal with the weight of the shot put.

They’ll tally about 3.7 miles a day working four-hour shifts. And yes, the headlights work. Sadly there’s no suggestion that they’ll be available for sale to the public.

P&G Shows NBC How It’s Done

Maybe NBC Sports should hire some writers from Wieden + Kennedy in Portland for those over-the-top athlete profile pieces it uses to string us along before showing the prime-time events that we’re actually waiting to see.

P&G debuted its Olympic campaign, Proud Sponsors of Mom, back in April with a wonderful and powerful commercial reminding us that behind every Olympian is a mom (or dad) who was with the athlete every step of the way. The commercial has been viewed on YouTube more than five million times.

Since then, the campaign continues to nail it with commercials in which athletes thank their moms, and a Facebook app where 38,000 people have posted their own thanks. At the games, P&G has hosted numerous events for moms, and print ads feature medalists in youthful photos, the way their moms remember them.

At every turn P&G demonstrates that you can tap powerful emotions without trite scripts and melodramatic narratives. Compare this piece from P&G called Raising an Olympian with anything you’ll see in prime time tonight. NBC are you paying attention?

About Project TILWO I watch London 2012 Olympic coverage on TV and online then share the lessons I learned, with occasional help from my friends. Edited by Lynn Hess @ Premier Proofing.