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2010 FIFA World Cup Interview

MINI raises the bar uh flag

A marketing campaign for a very small car grabbed hold of the imagination of millions of vehicle owners in a very big way for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. South Africans enthusiastically embraced a campaign, initially driven by MINI, to place the South African flag on the side-mirrors of their vehicles. Karen Valle, GM of MINI South Africa, talks to about how the 6 Colours to Stand By campaign came about, and how it snowballed into one of the defining images of SA unity during this world cup. [video]
MINI raises the bar uh flag

Bizcommunity: Can you give us some background to the '6 Colours to Stand By' campaign?

Karen Valle: MINI is renowned for its design and customisation opportunities on our vehicles. Our above-the-line agency Black River FC presented us with the idea to customise our mirror caps with the South African flag at the beginning of the year in order to encourage patriotism in our country ala the US.

We then started investigating how we could do this in a cost-effective manner and discovered that due to the curvature on our side-mirrors, we could not do decals. Moulds and casting of South African mirror caps would be extremely costly.

We were considering doing decals on the side panels between the bonnet and the front doors, when I received a call from one of our MINI owners in Cape Town who had just imported 10 000 of the mirror flags - Nicole from TwoTen Marketing asked if we would be interested in buying any of these as she had already been in to two of our dealerships in Cape Town and they had bought some from her.

We ended up buying approximately 9000/the rest of her stock from her. The rest is history...

Biz: What inspired you to give the mirror caps out to all South Africans?

Valle: We knew it was only a matter of time before others would climb onto this magnificent band wagon and we certainly could not claim Mzansi patriotism as our own! We also saw this as an ideal opportunity to expose all South Africans to the MINI brand through our MINI showrooms by inviting them to collect [them] at our dealerships.

Biz: Originally it was only going to go to MINI drivers' right?

Valle: Yes. Our first communication went out to our MINI owners. We realised at our 50th anniversary in Clarens last year how passionate our owners are about the MINI brand. With the '6 Colours to Stand By' campaign, our objective was to harness this passion they had for our brand and bring it across to showing their passion for their country!

MINI raises the bar uh flag

We launched the campaign with an email communication to our entire MINI Nation inviting them to visibly show their love for their country by collecting the mirror caps at their MINI dealership.

Biz: How many flag covers for car mirror caps did you give away during the campaign?

Valle: Initially we gave away 9000 within three weeks from all our dealerships. This all happened in February 2010. Our next batch only arrived sometime in May due to the strike at the Durban harbour (we had to wait about three weeks to get the stock off the ship) - we had ordered an additional 30 000, way more than the amount of MINIs out there, but obviously wanting to continue our campaign.

Biz: Was it a challenge to get the stock levels right? Where you caught by surprise with the popularity of this offer?

Valle: Without a doubt - dealers were getting daily phone calls once the initial stock had run out (bearing in mind this was all that was available at the time) from hundreds of people that had seen our advert in the Sunday Times, heard about it via Facebook, or seen it on their friends' cars, asking our dealers when the next stock would be there. Dealers started building up databases of companies and individuals to contact as soon as the next batch would arrive.

Biz: You backed up the campaign through traditional media. Was this part of the strategy from the word-go and did it expand once you realised how popular the campaign had become?

MINI raises the bar uh flag

Valle: We ran one ad in the Sunday Times (We Will not Support England This Year) and the intention was to do only that. As the momentum grew in the first few weeks and we started getting frantic phone calls from dealers who had already started running out of stock, we realised we would need to use the social networks to inform interested Mzansi fans where to go (where dealers still had stock), as well as when the next batch would be arriving.

We also planned to get members of the media together in order to promote the campaign - in the end we had to postpone this event as we had already run out of the initial stock!

Biz: What did you think when you realised those flag covers have gone well beyond your own campaign and street sellers started selling them?

Valle: An enormous sense of pride that we had started this national campaign to raise the flag in South Africa. Blog sites started promoting the sale of MINI flags and even used photos of MINIs with the mirror flags - we were just so thrilled that the whole nation had taken up the challenge to fly the flag.

We even received a letter from Brand South Africa thanking us for this initiative and for being part of 'Team South Africa'!

Biz: Can you reveal your ROI on this campaign and did it affect sales of the MINI?

Valle: The intention was based on brand-building and not a sales exercise - from a brand perspective it is difficult to quantify how much this meant locally - we even have some images of cars running around in other countries proudly flying our mirror flags!

Biz: How will you be following up on the success achieved by this campaign?

Valle: We followed it up with the Makarapa Countryman campaign we ran during the world cup which will be followed by the launch of the Countryman in November. The Countryman campaign received 1.2million impressions globally as our colleagues in Munich also put the information out there on MINISpace, as well as YouTube.

About Herman Manson: @marklives

The inaugural Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year in 2011, Herman Manson (@marklives) is a business journalist and media commentator who edits industry news site His writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines locally and abroad, including He also co-founded Brand magazine.
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