Blog : Okay MINI, please stop!

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Minis have feelings too

I like to think that AROnline is about as supportive as it comes when it comes to MINI, and its model development. The 2001 R50 generation MINI emerged as a Rover-feeling product that most of us could get on with (those who hated then still hate today) – it proved a success, and soon, the company added a convertible version (R53).

In 2006, the second generation MINI arrived, and it was a clever evolution of what came before. I remember travelling down to the launch in Barcelona in a Volkswagen Polo GTi to do battle with the latest MINI, and after a day in the mountains, came to a simple conclusion. The MINI trounced the Polo. But after the dust had settled, it was easy to see that some of the Mini-ness had been synthesized out – and I remember clearly saying to my colleague on the jaunt that actually, it felt more like a small BMW to drive that what came before.

Still, that meant it was – and is – a cracking driver’s car.

And MINI capitalised on this. The Clubman was the next version to arrive (I actually adore its quirkiness), followed by the Convertible. Then, the Austrian-built Countryman joined the party – and it was at this point, the MINI marque should have been stretched to incorporate Maxi (yes, it really should have), but oh no, they called it the Countryman (which really is what the Clubman should have been called). Then came the Coupe and Roadster – followed by the Paceman.

And to me – who has bought a plain, boggo, and quite brilliant MINI First, remember – each time an additional model swelled the ranks, a little more MINI DNA was lost in the process. But again, this is progress (2012 Porsche 991 feels rather distant from a 1963 911 after all), and cars get bigger and heavier as customers demand more equipment, pace and safety. It’s a trade-off, and a simple one that nearly every manufacturer has embraced.

But while this has been going on, it’s felt as if the marketing department has felt the need to compensate for the loss of this overall Mini-ness by concocting an increasing number of special editions and ever-expensive high performance versions. And it’s felt that with each new edition (generally named after one borough of London or another), AROnline’s readership has increasingly lost its patience. When the Paceman JCW arrived earlier this month, it was met with such hostility, I ended up taking the story off the front page early…

But still I was okay. After all, it’s progress isn’t it.

However, I think I may have been presented with the straw that was capable of breaking this most sturdy of spines. You’ve already guessed from the image above that the ‘loveable’ marketeers have decided to plunder our heritage in the most awful way by recreating the lovely 1986-87 ‘Minis have feelings too’ advert. I don’t know why, but reprising this, re-making it with new MINIs has really annoyed me.

I think, perhaps, it’s because I know they can do so much better. When you think about the launch advertising back in 2001 (‘It’s a MINI adventure’) – and how forward looking it was – this reversion to nostalgia is both disappointing and distasteful. And lazy. Oh so lazy. Sorry for this mini-rant (sorry) so close to Christmas, but come on: MINI, stop it. Stop it now.

Please?

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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61 Comments

  1. Aww look at their little faces, how can you be so mean?

    In all seriousness itโ€™s got beyond a joke. I donโ€™t even know what kind of person they are trying to appeal to, apart from the sad sort of creature who keeps soft toys on her parcel shelf and has a mug with a kitten on it.

  2. Well, if I was in charge of advertising the MINI I would probably approve, think a new version of the ‘Minis have feelings too’ advert was a brilliant idea. However, I’m not and as I have feelings too, I regard it as a bit of an insult to the original!

  3. I was heavily in to BMW MINI’s and ran a R50 and a R53 (that’s the supercharged MINI, not the R52 Cabrio), both from new, with my own hard owned cash. We were heavily involved with setting up and helping to run the new MINI club for Cornwall and Devon.

    Yet, even I find this advert in extremely bad taste! Now, if it had been the Cuntryman, I might even have even have driven me to join the provisional wing of the Classic Mini owners club ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I thought the original advert was pretty crass and as much as I love the brand (we own an R56 hatch), this is a pretty crappy bit of marketing.

    I agree, they need to try harder in a number of areas. They have done so well and have made some great models. It would be a shame to screw it up now with more lazy marketing, model names and styling cues.

  5. I’ve got a great idea- why don’t the people responsible for marketing MG Motors swap jobs with their counterparts marketing Binis?

    On second thoughts…

  6. The over explained way the new advert is filmed in is awful! However I sort of like the old ad, its simple British and clever, but I like the old car more than the new one too!!

    I don’t hate MINI but after a decade I can’t find it in me to love it either. I just wish someone with my opinions about cars would buy the Austin or Morris brand from SAIC and ask Gordon Murray to create a Morris Micro-Minor or Austin Se7en.

  7. Yet more plundering of the original Minis history.
    Shame the new cars can’t write any of their own and need to rely on the past to ‘legitimise’ its existence.

  8. @13 Lord Swarf: Me too ๐Ÿ™ Complete nausia….

    Even if it had been an original and interesting idea (and it’s neither), I’m not sure that the new MINI, especially the Cooper S, benefits from this sort of girly / “my little pony” type image either.

  9. sheer plagiarism, those vehicles are nothing like the original, are made by a completely different company and they’re not in the least adorable.

    Surely vehicles like that are more likely to bash each other’s brains out?

    • @Paul Hampson

      By my reckoning you’ve been coming here and making good contributions since 2004. But this recent fixation with beards is worrying. I have to ask… But why?

      Still happy with your Audi A4? ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Ohhhh I hope the PR team give the “Hampton” special edition the full advert treatment (preferably with John Holmes).

  11. @22 It does bother me and I do have a beard; does that mean that a beard is a sure sign of good taste then?! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. BMW need to bridge the gap in size between MINI and their own range of rear wheel drive machines. Instead of stretching the MINI concept to comical levels of diversity, why cannot they dust off their Triumph badges?

  13. As a classic Mini owner myself (continuously since 1974), I think it is a very good tribute to the original ad, the new ad will also no doubt revive interest in the original (as it has here) and introduce it to a new generation of MINI owners. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I expected to hate the reworked ad, but I didn’t object to it at all, which is quite surprising, as I generally loathe all things MINI.

  15. I’ve never been so angry at a remake in my life not even stallones get carter can match the crassness of this remake, it is awful, useless, rubbish, arrrgghhh. I love the original and remember as a kid that this was the advert that made me want a mini as a first car and less than 6 years later i bought one. Now i’ll never contemplate purchasing a new one ever!!!!!

  16. Good for them, I say – although it’s a lazy copy of the original. For example, why use unrecognisable music rather than a Christmas carol? Afraid of upsetting ‘minorities’, are they?

    Still, good to see them advertising – seen any MG ads recently…?

  17. @28 – Excellent point. Considering how much of a joke the first New Beetle was compared to the R50 MINI, it’s disappointing to see how diluted the MINI brand reputation now is compared to that of the New Beetle. The MINI brand is being stretched to the breaking point while the second generation New Beetle now has the classless, gender-neutral appeal of the R50 and ADO15, even getting back to its Porsche roots.

    IMO, BMW missed a trick when they decided to let go of the Austin brand during the 2000 sale of Rover Group assets. Had they kept it, then they could have used the Austin brand for extensions of the MINI range, with MINI becoming a sub-brand of Austin like the Mustang is to Ford.

    Austin would have been more appropriate than Triumph due to the Mini’s origins as an Austin small car. When it was launched in 1959, the Mini was the spiritual successor to the Austin Seven and branded as such. When BL tried to differentiate the Morris and Austin brands during the 1970s, Austin was the brand which continued the technological legacy of the Mini.

    In addition, Austin was the company whose German partnership gave birth to BMW. How’s that for irony?

    In any case, BMW has held onto the Triumph brand for 13 years and still hasn’t done anything with it, so it’s probable that they only kept hold of it to prevent it from being used on a four-wheeled extension of the range of their rival Triumph Motorcycles. To be honest, I don’t think they planned in 2000 for the eventuality of expanding the FWD range from the MINI. Since they fired Bangle, they haven’t been at the forefront of any major market trends. Any investor in BMW should seriously question how much foresight the BMW management actually have.

  18. Come on guys. Get over it. BMW are running an extremely successful car factory in Oxfordshire,employing plenty of people exporting them all over the world.

    Making things that people want to buy in large numbers. Now there’s an idea.

  19. I don’t mind the advert in principal but agree that the music is somewhat anonymous. What did jar me though was how unflattering the shot of two R56 MINIs “kissing” each other was.

    It looks like the producers of the ad had gone all misty eyed when they were viewing the finished product!

  20. Regardless of what one might think, I think the idea of increasing brand awareness has some value. I might contact MG Motor in Birmingham and make them aware of this novel concept, the ‘Advert’, see if they have any interest….

  21. @40
    Indeed. I should add, why use such awful dull colours for the cars, instead of bright reds, greens and blues? Maybe a Union Jack on the roof of at least one of them?

    And let’s have a big slobbering kissing sound when the bumpers meet.

    Is this ad destined for the UK or elsewhere?

    @41
    You could try, Mark, but I suspect they’re already closed – for Christmas…

  22. This has nothing to do with the real Mini. It’s just a BMW product that is sold as “Britishness” throughout the world by a German family… Very sad a lot of people simply accept this. This is selling the soul of people by someone who has nothing to do with it. If this commercial is made by a British company they should be ashamed. Copy and paste just Chinese…

  23. “44
    So…..Jaguar, Land Rover are sold as “Britishness” by the Indians and Rolls Royce and Bentley are sold as “Britishness” by some more nasty Germans via BMW and VW, then MG’s are being sold as “Britishness” by the Chinese…..and yet British Car manufacturing output is said to be booming, I wonder what they are all doing wrong?? It was all so much better back in the 1970’s under British management…… ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. I also am pleased that British car manufacturing is booming. However, I think there is a big difference between how BMW handled MG/Rover and how Tata is handling JLR.

    I guess it’s not hard to see why there is resentment of BMW and its Mini.

  25. Let’s face it, Rover bias goggles off, this is a terrible advert. The whole ambience of the previous 80’s advert is missing, and it seems tacky and ill-thought.

    And with regards to MINI, having driven extensively both R50 and R56 MINIs I can assure anyone that the R50 is indeed a very Rover-influenced product and is a world away from the R56.

    The R56 is better built, more efficient and has better specs in almost every way than the R50, but there is definitely something huge the R56 lacks. I think it’s the R50’s flaws which give it it’s charm; the whiny power steering, harsh-skittish ride, it’s uniqueness and simplicity. But I understand that this only appeals to enthusiasts. Most new buyers will seek the Germanic attributes in the newer model and this is proven by sales figures.

    But who knows how the new F56 MINI will fare? In my opinion BMW could be making big mistakes with that car. 5 doors? No central speedo? Bulky and ugly appearance? They may be shooting themselves in the foot. time will tell.

  26. I believe the advert was primarily intended for German consumption, but to be honest I really don’t mind it. As others have said, the important thing is that the Oxford factory is thriving, and the cars do represent quality items.

    If only we could be witnessing an MG resurgence…

  27. Why would ANY BMW advert be anything but crass? Isn’t that what BMW is all about?

    I’m off for a 240 mile jaunt this afternoon in our R reg Rover 100, i’ll take a close look at the BMW customer base while I’m out…

  28. I did some research with the producer of this remake. It is not a MINI advert – since you have not seen it on TV, internet or elsewhere. It is a work by students. Their task was to recreate ads from the 80’s. They took the masterpiece and re-did a new version. A german-based MINI dealer provided the cars to that matter, hence the german registration. From the numberplates you can tell it is not even cars owned by BMW but by a dealer.
    No need to worry, it will not show up as an ad. And knowing that – and sharing this with you – I believe is a pretty cool tribute to the original Mini creativity and magic.
    Peace and Merry Christmas, Patric

  29. It will forever wrankle with me how BMW asset stripped anything worth anything from MGR including Mini (sigh, oh OK, MINI) but I reached the ‘lost the plot’ mark some considerable time ago with those god damn awful Germans. (Yes, I AM grateful at least for the investment in the/my prized R75)

    Everytime I drive by a Bini dealer though, I heave a huge sigh, as I do each time I see another morphed ‘idea’ for yet another ‘version’ and blow me, rumours of a mini-MINI.

    So, so far beyond losing the plot, they’ve almost attempted a vain stab at picking up the original Sir Alec Issigonis plot which I think will bug me even more, potentially to the brink of explosion. I think I’d better stop there before I go any further. Grrrr.

  30. @55
    So previous British owners BAe did not get Rover for a knockdown price from the government, asset strip and sell much of the factory property assets, like most of the historic Cowley site, then sell on to BMW as soon as the governments minimum 5-year ownership terms expired….for yet further profit with little long term investment for Rovers future?

  31. The new advert is a sad and cheaply done tribute to the original and is on a par with the other boring offerings that BMW brings us in the advertising stakes. I also consider their cars thoroughly overrated but that’s only my opinion. And please do NOT let BMW wreck the name of another great British car company namely Triumph I have a pair of TR’s and would be really annoyed if the marque was to return under this bunch.

  32. The Austin Mini was a genuine innovative car. With the FWD, transverse engine, gearbox in sump and Moulton suspension, any one of which would have been an inniovation to crow about, but then, Issy turned the body shell inside out putting the welded seams on the outside and freeing up and extra 2″ of space (50mm in foreign money) on the inside.

    In contrast, the new Mini is a bloated and utterly conventional car using a Peugeot derived angine and standard coil sprung suspension. Inside, the original minimalist styling has been replaced by a confusing and illogical collection of switchgear.

    Having ridden in both, the new one is doubtless faster & more comfortable, but the old one is a thing of delight in its simplicity. I thoroughly hate the new Mini which is just a shape with no substance [like the new Beetle] but the old Issigonis Mini is a true design classic.

  33. @58
    The external body seams of the original Mini were to aid production of the bodyshell with cheaper less specialized equipment should the body be assembled in more ‘primitive’ countries and had nothing to do with space saving.

    The leaking early internal lapped floor pans/sills were also designed by Issigonis to allow assembly in ‘primitive’ factories starting from the floorpan upwards, despite advice that this would leak……it did and was later re-designed with lapped joints on the outer sills.

    Issigonis designed his 9X Mini replacement with coil springs because like all current small car manufacturers he had realised this was cheaper and better than rubber cones/hydrolastic……

    The New MINI is a great car, a top seller worldwide and in 10 years has created a completely new class of premium/prestige superminis now being copied by all the major manufacturers……Alfa Mito, Fiat 500, Audi A1, Citroen DS3 and now the Vauxhall Adam!!

    It also allows a premium priced small car to be built in Britain…..something BL/Rover could never have worked out the economics of in order to replace the original Mini on their own. BMW did, designed the R50 MINI with mainly Rover engineers input and then took the risk to invest in the brands future. Good luck to them.

  34. The MINI is a good car with an increasingly inappropriate name.

    As a car, it is a good little driving FWD hatch but with terrible packaging and an absolutely awful dashboard.

    The Coupe/Roadster look good (as long as the roof is the same colour as the rest of the car) but is again lumbered with that dash.

    The Countryman/Clubman is just not a MINI by any stretch of the imagination. Good cars they may be (again that dash!) but MINI it ain’t.

    I’ve never been happy with the transition for model to become a brand – it reminds of the daft way of saying a Reliant Robin. If they had just launched the R50 as a model with either Triumph/Riley/Austin/BMW badges then great and we may not be in this situation where each new elaboration on the MINI is greeted with disgust.

    Also, I don’t care who owns what, as long as they look after it. Tata is doing great things with JLR, SAIC not so good with MG and BMW is providing a good car with a crap dash but is proving stupidly successful… We should be content that as long as it’s made here, we can still call it British! I don’t think the Yanks are bemoaning the fact that Chrysler is now Italian owned (although I may be wrong)… True, their products are immensely better than before and perhaps the Yanks will learn how to build a car properly… But I digress…

    And the more Binis that are sold means less crappy, nasty looking, buffoon driven Audi A1s on the road :-). Amen to that!

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