Blog : Horsegate now extends to MINI

Keith Adams


A few days ago, we had the unfortunate case of MG Motor UK deciding that the current Horsemeat scandal that’s gripping Britain would be a great opportunity to go out and try and sell a few cars. The ensuing controversy, which spread around the community before heading back to the mothership at Longbridge (and then Shanghai) highlighted what can only be described as a lack of professionalism within the Sales Centre, did no good for MG Motor UK – although we’re still waiting to see if the (rapidly withdrawn) ploy resulted in any additional car sales. Or just bollockings.

Well, it looks like MINI has decided that Horsegate is a great selling opportunity not to be missed, and followed in MG Motor UK’s heels, even if it’s been done somewhat more professionally. As you can see from the full page advert (left), that I really didn’t enjoy stumbling on this weekend, it’s taking very much the same line as MG’s effort, although missing the wonderful clipart horse, for added cheesiness.

Since the beginning of Horsegate, I’ve had a few (not hundreds, but a few) emails from overseas readers asking what all the fuss is about. One regular, who lives in Slovenia, said that horse is indeed delicious and some of the best burgers in Ljubljana are served at the Hot Horse. Problem is that, here in the UK, we’re not culturally horse eaters and choose not to partake – although we’re happy to eat baby sheep like there’s no tomorrow. He found this puzzling, saying, ‘you treat them like pets?’ But that’s not the point – it would be nice to be told that we’re eating horse beforehand and be given the choice.

Of course, I digress – and the point here is that the UK’s national shame is probably not the best subject for an advertising and publicity campaign. After all, what Horsegate has show us is that us Brits are desperate for the cheapest products available and yet don’t like it when we find that suppliers cut corners in order to meet the bottom line. It’s been an increasing fact of business life for sometime now and it’s probably a good thing in the long run that the matter has been brought to the attention of the public.

What this has to do with MINI and its John Cooper Works Coupe is unclear, other than an attempt at a pithy advertising strapline, but I suspect that this effort above may in fact annoy the sensitivities of those who the company is seeking to attract into its cars. And that’s a shame. When I first saw the advert, I groaned inwardly – and found myself saying (again) to no one in particular, ‘it’s hard to love MINI’.

And I bloody own one!

Keith Adams


  1. I spotted this in Sunday’s Times…. and uttered a rude word. MINI deserves more contempt than MGR, because this would have signed off in triplicate rather than a Facebook “faux pas”.

  2. not really anything to get worked up about to be honest. The MG story was more significant than this, only because, at the time Tesco was taking all the flak, it had to be pointed out that Tesco was their main BTCC sponsor. A major faux pas and pretty much an amateur mistake. Something they quickly rectified and to be honest, is a no news story now.

    This MINI ad I couldn’t care less for and in itself is a no news story so I can’t understand why anyone could get work up about this or even be bothered to take the time and the trouble to post a blog of it… *yawn!*

  3. What you need to grasp is, these were in very middle class news papers, and often the people who read it are in ‘the horsey set’, so adverts like this will have those now former potential customers flaming with rage. It is a childish, and pathetic advert by Bini, and in all fairness, someone needs the boot for it

  4. I’ve eaten horse in Ljubljana. “Strips of Foal”, who could resist? Lovely.

    As for the advert, my biggest criticism is that horse jokes are a bit unoriginal, every cartoonist/blogger/tweeter/amateur comedian has been making horse puns for 2 weeks now.

  5. 8.Yorkie – most of the horsey set are also linked in some way to the farming set so they’ll have a pretty good idea what happens to Dobbin when he’s jumped his last fence.

    Apparently in the horsey world, if you are about to buy a ‘bad’ horse you’ll find nobody knows anything about its history. Until you’ve bought it. Then everyone wants to tell you about the big mistake you’ve made.

  6. I thought it was pretty funny myself.

    At least it’s been done professionally, rather than that appalling effort by “MG”.

    Why do we choose to take offence at so many things in this country these days?

  7. yeh.. No news event.. My cousin (horse rider) perplexed about the fuss.. Moving swiftly… Wasted a few minutes reading this entry….

  8. I don’t see what the problem is. It is slightly amusing, albeit overused pun over the last couple of weeks. We are a horsey family and don’t take any offence from the recent stories about horse meat. Indeed it has highlighted what we always suspected was going on.

  9. In my limited experience of eating horse meat abroad it was:

    1. Delicious.

    2. I’d struggle to tell it apart from beef.

  10. Eventhough I think it’s wrong to sell horsemeat as if it was beef, I still thing horse tastes delicious and is far superior to beef for the simple reason that most horses have had a better life then most other animals…

    So eat more Horse and stop whining 😉

  11. I’ve eaten horse too and don’t see what the fuss is about.

    I’d draw the line at eating dogs and cats, but then they are carnivores, and carnivore meat isn’t pleasant (or so I’m advised…)

    Bini can afford to make the odd crap ad, after all, the rest of their marketing machine is very well-oiled. The only sense in which MG Motor’s marketing department could be possibly described as ‘well oiled’ is in the sense that their press releases look like they’ve been compiled on a Friday afternoon after a particularly long liquid lunch…

  12. I have no issue with eating horse but eating beef laced with horse is just not on.

    The MINI ad is actually quite cool, the MG one though is better though simply because it is so bad and you wonder who thought that the resulting effort was a good idea.

  13. I thought the MINI ad was funny and quite cleverly done……as did nearly all of those who replied when the ad was posted on both the classic Mini and modern MINI forums. 🙂

  14. It was worth Keith posting this just to read contributors & their marvellous puns; well done gang!

    I thought it simple but well done, like a horse steak. This could be a meaty issue, but there’s not much to chew on.

    I get where Keith is coming from about the love. I really, really want to love Bini’s, but something drags me back like reins & I can’t get to handing over the folding. Something is missing in the heart stirring steaks. Sorry, stakes. I’ll grab my coat as well…

  15. Back about 30 od years ago, the Mini branding was a bit forgotten behind the edifice that was Austin Rover. But they did have good ad copy. Who remembers the newly introduced “quiet” Minis with the strapline “Fast as Nastase without the racket”?

  16. I’m CHOMPING AT THE BIT with frustration here. But it does prove all the NAYsayers right, when you see MINI HORSING around over such a serious issue. Shame though, as the car’s a BUTE.

  17. (Ian places tongue slightly towards his cheek and types)

    BMW: Guilty as charged (again).
    Plot: Lost a long time ago with ‘Mini’ anyway.
    Sentance: completely sign over all rights to the Mini from what is left of whence it came in the first place and should have stayed.

  18. @32
    (Martin also places tongue slightly towards his cheek and types) 🙂

    Lost the plot?…..Mini sales now back to peak 1971 levels in 2012.

    Sign rights back to who exactly?
    Rover wanted to kill the Mini off quietly in 1997 until BMW stopped them and funded development of the MPi, while BLMC, BL, BAe, etc never invested in its ongoing development or even a proper advertising budget for many years….Graham Day discovered most British car buyers were not aware the classic Mini was still in production at one point….

  19. I liked this reader comment below about the Daily Mail article on the 15th oldest-surviving Mini in the world and 529th of its type. 🙂

    Read more:

    “When the Mimi was born BMW made bubble cars. Now through superb management the Mini helped the British Motor Corporation become the world beater it is today, whilst , of course, BMW has disappeared without a trace.”

  20. i thought the MG advertisement was a. timely , b. quite funny , and c. eye-catching.

    This, in comparison is a. too late , b. not very funny and c. dull as ditchwater to look at

  21. They’re both shit. The MG one because it’s laughably amateur with clip-art and all. But it’s followed a theme of generally shit advertising

    This one because it’s just shit. And generally, MINI’s advertising is usually pretty good, so it’s all the more disappointing.

  22. I hope those who like beef know that a 100% beef burger have any part of a cow from its nose to its tail. I rather have a horse steak than the cow’s arse, tongue, eyes, guts, etc. in a burger.
    It is pointless to compare any MG advertisement with any Mini advertisement, simply because regardless the quality of the ad, BMW sells and MG Motors UK doesn,t!

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