Mini USA has launched a series of “talking billboards.” The billboards can identify Mini Coopers using a coded signal from a radio chip embedded in the car’s key fob. As drivers approach, a customized message flashes on the billboard. “Hi Jackie! Don’t crash the car.”
Being identified by a billboard sounds kinda creepy, but the messages are based on information submitted by Mini owners who’ve opted into the campaign. Nonetheless, it still seems a bit like the “Truman Show” or a poor-man’s “L.A. Story.”
Mini and its ad agency say the snooping billboards will “intensify the already strong ‘tribal’ feeling among Mini owners and stimulate their desire to support the brand.” That’s a big horse pill to swallow. If a company claims that its buzz marketing program will “intensify already strong tribal feelings,” chances are it has OD’d on its own Kool-Aid.
Just last year Mini concocted another expensive gimmick: encrypted magazine ads that could only be read by Mini owners who’d been sent a kit with a special viewer to decode them. A lot of work just to be marketed to.