MINI Unites Owners Across the Country for a Larger Cause

Australian author and filmmaker Tim Cope once said, “Ultimately, it’s a sense of camaraderie and friendship with local people that is core to my journeys.” Someone at MINI must have read this quote and taken it to heart, otherwise it might seem strange to spend two weeks on a cross-country road trip with hundreds of strangers. However, few events could do a better job of connecting such a unique community of people around a cause than MINI Takes the States (MTTS).

This summer marked the fifth MINI Takes the States, a biannual event sponsored by the brand that rallies hundreds of MINI Owners to motor across the country. MINI is a company that prides itself on its passionate ownership base, and for being a brand that sets itself apart from its contemporaries in the automotive industry. Starting in 2006, MINI set out to create an event that would celebrate its avid group of owners from all over the country with fun, unique and purpose-driven motoring experiences that would bring owners not only closer to the brand, but also to each other along the way. The result was MTTS, which has steadily grown over the last 10 years. This year’s MTTS marked the largest gathering from the MINI Family yet. About 900 people made the entire cross-country trek from Atlanta to Palm Springs, with anywhere from 1,200 to 1,400+ people at any given stop along the way.

A brand with community

While many brands boast passionate followings, few have channeled their communities into brand advocates to the extent that MINI has. From the passionate members of local MINI car clubs to families loading up their kids and dogs into two-door hatchbacks for an epic, if not close-quartered, family vacation, the motoring culture surrounding the brand is a huge part of the experience. The openness of the event, and that of the MINI brand, has welcomed such a broad cross-section of individuals from all over to take part. Some newer owners were dabbling in their first MTTS with a shorter multi-city leg journey while longtime owners were marking their fifth cross-country trip, and all were equally driven by the bond and community they find on the road.

A brand with purpose

As the brand is evolving from its adolescence, MINI is developing a sharper, more purposeful world view. MINI is a brand that stands for more than just making cars. It’s a brand that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to investing in its community of owners. It goes beyond just showing appreciation toward owners or getting them to engage online. MINI is a brand with a soul that facilitates great experiences for its drivers and admirers alike, while also standing firmly on the ideal of making the lives of others better along the way.

Tapping into its heritage of making more efficient use of available resources, MINI partnered with Feeding America and the Wall Street Journal to help “Defy Hunger in America.” Together, they are tackling the misperceptions of those who face hunger, and are shining a light on the often alarming levels of food insecurity across the country. Using MTTS as a larger platform, the brand engaged owners and participants to become involved, raising money from friends, family and local communities as they crossed the country while raising awareness for the larger cause.

While MINI and its partners took meaningful steps to address the very solvable problem of food insecurity in the U.S., the brand also served as a catalyst to bring owners closer together under an umbrella of helping others.

Part of what made the journey of crossing the United States so unique was the vastness and diversity that make up the country’s landscape and people. MTTS served as a bridge for owners and citizens of these different cities to truly experience what makes up America and Americans from all over. It would be difficult to find a wider array of places and people that truly captured what America is and what it stands for.

MINI: proving why brand communities matter

Many people donated to fight the problem of food insecurity, a problem that might have seemed foreign to them and touches so many people they will likely never meet. And yet, with over 1 million meals donated on behalf of MTTS, they exceeded the initial goal by nearly 25%. The collective effort demonstrated how a motivated community can have a significant impact when driven by a purpose. In times when people are given more opportunities to be divided, brands need to look for ways to empower their communities to establish common ground, support meaningful causes that bring us together, and solving actual problems that affect real people every day. Focusing on these areas creates real brand advocacy and loyalty by standing for more than a product or service. Over the course of the 3,000-mile journey, we saw just how an impassioned group like the MINI community can rally to create real impact in the world when driven by a unifying purpose.

About BSSP

Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners is a full-service marketing communications agency, named Small Agency of the Decade by Adweek. Learn more at bssp.com.

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