This case study illustrates MINI USA as a buyer of advertising services from an advertising agency. It describes the strategies and approaches of both the seller and the buyer of such advertising services.
David B. Godes
Harvard Business Review (508042-PDF-ENG)
December 07, 2007
Case questions answered:
- Section I, Situation Analysis: This analysis should provide a description of audiences that this case indicates are important to MINI USA’s success as a business and a brand. Using a variation of the 5Cs and information from the case, provide a list of the major audiences to be considered and briefly describe your perception of the value each audience would seem to want from MINI’s communication efforts.
- Section II, Summary of Events: This case is divided into three major sections: Dinner Without Food, Boot Camp, and Final Assignment. The Dinner Without Food and Boot Camp events should be analyzed in the context of the various activities that were included and against qualities, characteristics, and capabilities agencies might communicate to MINI marketing and the review committee collaborators. Pay special attention to the flow of the process, the questions being asked of the contending agencies, the cast of participants in the review. Conclude this section with an analysis of the Final Assignment. This assignment will provide MINI with both a written response and a final presentation. The task is to repeat your search for meaning in the assignment as it relates to what MINI may believe qualifies any agency to handle its advertising and communication responsibilities. You may want to include comments on the final checklist in this section.
- Section III, Conclusion: The paper should conclude with a summary description of the relationship MINI USA is seeking and should provide a detailed summary of the characteristics that MINI USA believes would be attributed to the ideal candidate.
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MINI USA: Finding a New Advertising Agency (B) Case Answers
Section I – Situation Analysis for MINI USA
MINI USA is looking for an advertising agency that can help them and truly understand them and their approach, they did not want a mediocre outsider kind of agency. They have four different types of audiences to take into consideration; consumers, dealerships, salespeople, and media.
Considering that Mini USA positions itself as an innovative, creative, and emotional product, this infers that their target consumers are rather young, energetic, risk-takers, tech fanatics, experimental, and adventurous.
Their age bracket is between 20-34 years old targeting a mid-high income segment. Consumers that live in rather urban cities with narrow streets, heavy traffic areas and could possibly have issues with parking spaces would best benefit from using this car.
Dealerships act as a middle man between consumers and the company. They want a product that consumers will buy and find value in it. Specifically, dealers look for a product, in this case, Mini, that delivers physically and performs a certain standard that they need to reach for dealers to accept it.
They are the access point for consumers. Considering that consumers that go to mini hope that they will be able to solve a problem that they have, then it must be a specific one considering that they must be looking for a certain thing.
As for salespeople, dealership pick those employees based on certain criteria that differs from one dealership to the other, however, they all have one thing in common: they are in sales. They try to cater to incoming consumers by showing them options based on whatever problem they have they’d need a car to solve, or certain criteria they need to meet for them to be satisfied.
Dealerships and salespeople work hand in hand to generate profit and seek a good collaborative relationship where they have a core combined value of management style and understanding of consumers.
As for Media, it presents the advertisements that the company agrees to publish in hopes to bring awareness to the car, generate revenue, and differentiate the brand more. Media affects all other three audiences of consumers, salespeople, and dealerships like a domino effect.
If the reaction is negative or positive it could affect the sales, the consumer’s perceptions, and determine whether the product will have any value to it as well as its performance in the market will be affected.
Dinner Without Food: It was a 90minute conversation that was intended to be open and free. Mini’s objective is to narrow down the groups based on different interview questions. This would enable them to know the agency that understands the auto industry, MINI, and those that don’t know enough about MINI.
This gives insight to MINI considering the work ethic of being a team. A team must know each other at least to an extent where they can work together towards a common goal. A team that works individually and then collaborate together often have flaws. This allowed MINI to see their attitudes, work, and ethical values, creativity, and personality.
As an example, if an agency sends one person to represents them all this indicates that they either lacked talented staff for the job or only trust this person and not an entire unit. Perhaps if they were to send a senior position to attend this could indicate that they are rather an old school, maybe trustful, or more knowledgeable about the industries.
It also helps narrow down agencies for the next step, as you would want a handful of teams to experience a weekend getaway, and only those that truly understand what they are getting into should be able to participate.
Purpose: MINI USA was able to understand the agencies to a certain degree since this activity could uncover an agency’s teamwork functionality, knowledge of the auto industry and MINI USA, and their perspective of the brand. This was perfect as a process of elimination.
Boot Camp: A weekend experience to provide agencies with a background in the MINI brand, allows MINI to assess the agency’s spontaneous creative skills and their character.
This activity allows the agencies to experience the brand from different perspectives: as a consumer, advertising agency, media, the brand, and dealership/salespeople. This was some sort of an eye-opener.
The experience is almost the same as the characteristics you’d give the car or the car owner. Brands preach their products can solve a problem, but in order to know-how, the agency must know what the car is capable of that it can offer.
The first day was for the agencies to get to know the product and the brand acting as if they are the consumer. This also helps them understand how to advertise it as well. The Roast was for the agencies to realize that they need to have a thick skin, as based on how the consumers will react you need to be quick with your reaction to their reaction.
The interaction resembles the brand’s quality: fun, energetic, adventurous. The dynamic is different and it should be understood that the advertisement must be understood in a way that is thorough.
The second day was for MINI USA to see how far they can push the agencies to experience the car as a consumer, and right after, figure out 10 items that are related to MINI. In a sense, have everything connected together from consumer to media to the brand and finally for the agency to understand that. This enabled them to use their creative problem-solving skill and demonstrate them accordingly.
They were able to feel and truly understand the capabilities of the product. Finally, the dinner offered the agencies to get to know the car owners to have a better understanding of their target audience and their perspective.
Also, this emphasized the importance of the unique and well-developed customer-brand relationship to MINI, and bring to light which agencies best interact with the typical and highly involved MINI consumers.
Purpose: This enabled MINI to narrow the agencies down even further since the reaction they received from them during the weekend experience to various activities made it easier to have a well-rounded answer and decision.
The reactions from driving the car, how they treated the car, their degree of passion when they met a consumer, and so forth were real-life data that held great value for MINI to decide which agency could pass to the final assignment.
The activities from the first stage to the end of the boot camp experience shows a consistent flow of the process, and the questions that were asked had a purpose and wasn’t just a filler even the questions that were about the individuals. Also,
The Final Assignment: The remaining agencies were supposed to present and submit a written response. The topics covered were about the core topics that will be discussed in the work field.
After the extensive process that the agencies went through, they should have a very clear idea of what MINI wants and if they are able to bring any surprise to the table for the company.
It was evident by the end of all of this that MINI USA was looking for a nontraditional approach asking for concepts that illustrated innovative and non-marketing kinds of thinking. The committee asked agencies to improve MINI by assessing their ability to address specific brand-related concerns like fuel efficiency.
Also, the agencies summarized MINI’s consumer and discussed how they could run the account shedding light on how the agencies were viewing the brand and where they will take it from there.
The Agency Scoring Checklist was well-rounded were the questions tackled teamwork, goals, and whether they understood each activity and its purpose. MINI showed how much interest they have in creativity and personality through strategic insights, retail, media, and creativity sections.
MINI initially focused on the agencies on an individual and group level, this allowed the company to understand which one of the agencies work well together. Their assessment relied heavily on personality based on the activities and characteristics they were taking into consideration.
The process in general from beginning to end flew nicely and consistently. It also maintained its focus on personality throughout the entire process whilst emphasizing creative marketing, brand knowledge, brand strength, and unique MINI-specific approaches.
MINI USA is seeking a relationship with an agency that is highly invested in collaborations. The company is looking for a friendship in their partnership with an agency that has superb interactions with each other, with MINI USA, and MINI’s consumers. In conclusion, their process will definitely have narrowed down their choices to an agency that best fits them.