Brand Insight: BMW and Mini

Brand Insight and Re-Positioning 

Brands seek to establish a clear proposition with their consumers. They work hard to reinforce it with well placed advertising campaigns and messaging.

The British Mini is a clear and well understood proposition – its small, tiny, cute. A much-loved brand with a loyal audience who get what it stands for. They know it’s not big. It’s in the name.

The challenge when you have such a well understood brand image, is when you branch out in a new direction.

When Mini launched their first family-sized car, it became apparent they would have to change customers perceptions.

CrowdCat was challenged to help Mini’s top creative and outdoor media agencies get the message across that this Mini wasn’t indeed mini.

Business Opportunity

The economics of automotive manufacturers means that ranges spanning several different models make sense. When a consumer likes your brand but you don’t have a solution for them, its a missed opportunity.

Consumer needs change with time and situation. The Mini brand needed to accomodate them. The Mini Countryman was a Mini for people who needed more space.

Initial Research Findings

Traditional Marketing approaches initially considered by agencies typically proposed to draw attention to the key new attribute – space – while equally reaffirming that it was ‘still a Mini’.

In short – the best of both worlds.

CrowdCat’s expertise in Scalable Consumer Psychology meant that we quickly identified that this approach would – at a psychological level – be a confusing message for any consumer to process. As such it would not be successful – the likely outcome being the consumer choosing to go with an established family car brand instead.

The reason behind this is that such a proposition is innately conflicted – the features are at odds with one another. In trying to overcome a fundemental point of difference – in this case size – it triggers rejection in the psychological decision-making processes. A similar conflict is experienced when any brand attempts to combine the archetypal low cost/high quality proposition.

Research shows brands need to identify and focus on one core theme, not several opposing ones.

CrowdCat’s Psychological Approach

CrowdCat used cognitive profiling to identify the critical single block preventing customers from purchasing, namely that their preconceptions would not allow them to perceive the vehicle as being family-sized.

With such a well understood brand, there was a clear condundrum – placing any word that implied ‘larger sized’ anywhere near the Mini brand instantly caused confusion and negative consumer sentiment.

To solve this problem we identified the brand would benefit from using a direct experiential solution. Something that would help put the Mini brand in a completely different context in people’s minds. We used the detailed cognitive data to develop and test a 20 second immersive visual experience that literally re-wired consumer thinking and allowed them to perceive the vehicle accurately.

Working alongside the creative agency, CrowdCat also devised a real world experiential display that would remain on brand, attract massive consumer engagement and be able to deliver the designed immersive visual experience to an audience of potentially 7 million.


“The campaign was badged as a World Record Attempt for the number of people in a Mini. The strapline was ‘How Many People Can the New 4 door Mini CountryMan Hold?”

Within short time-frames it was essential that all parties worked seamlessly: Brand Marketing Team + CrowdCat + Agency all in sync. In fact, having the data-backed, focused brief from CrowdCat at the outset, avoided any significant rework or review during execution. To support the campaign, four Experiential Displays were built and rotated around the country over an 8 week period.


CrowdCat clearly defined the messaging and mechanism which could be predicted to be effective – based on verified data. Our psychological research and insight, combined with the presence of visual ‘evidence’ and reinforcement proved remarkably effective in gaining social engagement and sharing.


Figure 1. The new model sold out at pre-order before it even went on sale.

Data capture evidenced that out of 7M people who walked passed the display, 1.5M stopped and were visually engaged with the experience for 20s or more. Interactions of greater than 20 seconds were measured as being effective in re-positioning the brand for a consumer. The new Mini Countryman sold out before it even hit the show rooms.