Mini USA, the tiny car division of BMW of North America L.L.C., has developed a reputation for edgy, irreverent marketing messages, and one of its latest was no exception, though a bit odd.
The company included coupons for free Krispy Kreme doughnuts in full-page print advertisements that appeared in August issues of six consumer mags, including Car and Driver, Maxim and Sports Illustrated. In the past it has teamed up with Puma N.A. on running shoes and Samsonite Corp. on luggage. This latest ploy apparently was targeted at the American waistline.
Automotive News reported the firm's ad campaign offered ``friend makers'' to keep on the front seat in the event a Mini driver is pulled over by a hungry police officer. (Ah, nothing like fostering that legendary penchant of a cop for a doughnut, eh?) The treats enabled drivers to offer more than just a license and registration, the company wise-cracked.
(It brings to mind the old joke about what not to say to a police officer who pulls you over. Officer: ``Son, your eyes look a little red-have you been drinking?''
``Gee, sir, your eyes look glazed. Have you been eating doughnuts?'')
The ads represent an attempt by Mini to ``take a left when everyone else is turning right,'' explained Kerri Martin, Mini's manager of marketing communications. ``We share brand values of irreverence. And it's OK if people think it's strange.''
The problem as we see it: Eat enough Krispy Kremes and a driver would hardly be able to fit behind the wheel. But then, that could birth a whole new marketing campaign.
A flabby excuse
In a similar weighty vein, the German newspaper Bild reported last month on a Stuttgart, Germany, court ruling that DaimlerChrysler A.G.'s Mercedes-Benz unit must release a man from a car lease after a dispute over whether he was too hefty to drive his Mercedes S320 CDI model.
The car maker had refused to let the insurance salesman, listed only as ``Frank S.,'' out of his lease, arguing the multiple car breakdowns caused by his weight were insufficient grounds to break the deal. The court said the car should have been able to handle his 352 pounds-about twice as much as the average driver.
``They told me that I was too fat for the car because the seat was broken,'' he told Bild, according to Reuters. ``I could hardly fit behind the steering wheel. Then I had to take the car back to the shop for repairs 13 times for 21 different malfunctions'' in the first 12,400 or so miles.
The 37-year-old said he got fed up with the breakdowns and wanted to return the car. The court agreed.
Shall we hoist a Krispy Kreme in celebration?
This 'n that
In the rough-A Chinese proverb says ``a diamond with a flaw is better than a common stone that is perfect.'' So it follows that a flat tire is better than no tire at all? Hmm...
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Quotes du jour- Remember the Charlie Sheen flick ``Wall Street,'' in which Michael Douglas' character Gordon Gekko observes, ``Greed is good?''
In a similar vein, Tobacco giant RJR Nabisco CEO F. Ross Johnson, who was extensively profiled in the book ``Barbarians at the Gate-The Fall of RJR Nabisco'' (and a similarly named movie), once expressed his three rules of Wall Street: ``Never play by the rules, never pay in cash and never tell the truth.''
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Pining for '05?- A century ago...the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 m.p.h....only 8 percent of homes had a telephone...crossword puzzles, canned beer and iced tea hadn't been invented yet... a dozen eggs cost 14 cents (what about the price of a tire?)...and the population of Las Vegas was 30 (but that number swelled to 110 for the SEMA Show...just kidding).
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Annoying stuff- The subject line on the e-mail making the rounds was: ``Nine things I hate about everyone.'' While some of it can't be repeated in this family newspaper, there are a couple things guaranteed to tick you off-as if you needed encouragement, right?
Don't you just hate it when people say, ``It's always the last place you look.'' Of course it is. Why would you keep looking after you've found it? Do people actually do that?
OK...you're waiting for the bus and someone asks, ``Has the bus come yet?'' If the bus came, would you still be standing there?
And then there's the label boasting something's ``new and improved.'' Which is it? If it's new, then there has never been anything before it. If it's an improvement, then there must have been something before it, so it couldn't be new. They must teach this stuff in marketing classes.
Presto...a tire dump
Carolyn Sparks, a resident of Eclectic, Ala., told the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) she had no idea how 150,000 scrap tires ended up on property she owns near her town-but she's willing to help get rid of them.
The ADEM had received an anonymous tip that the tires-which couldn't be seen from the road-were lurking out there, according to a story in the Montgomery Advertiser. The agency's biggest fears were mosquitoes breeding in the warm, cozy inner environs of the rubber incubators, and the ever-present threat of sparks, uh, fire. In 2003 the state legislature passed the Alabama Scrap Tire Environmental Quality Act, which placed a $1 per tire fee on all replacement tires sold. Its aim was to establish a scrap tire fund and require regulation of scrap tire management, as well as provide for the cleanup and remediation of illegal scrap tire piles.
Now Ms. Sparks knows why they call it Eclectic.
This item started out as a passing mention of Yellow Cab Co. and its bright-orange competitor in Chicago, the Wolley Cab Association-which, in case you didn't notice, is ``yellow'' spelled backwards.
Wolley calls itself Chi-Town's ``newest and fastest growing independent owners group.''
But the story of Yellow Cab, incorporated in 1915 by Chicago automobile salesman John Hertz, is one of innovation, according to the company's Web site. Faced with a surplus of used cars traded in for new ones at his dealership, Mr. Hertz hit upon the idea to turn them into taxis. He was in charge of the cab company until 1929 when he left that business to start another: the rental car firm that still bears his name.
During his tenure at Yellow, the company devised a manual windshield wiper for its cars. Mr. Hertz also liked the then-new Firestone balloon tire, which he felt provided a more comfortable ride for passengers. So he converted all of his cabs to wider-rimmed wheels to accommodate the tire. The company claimed his use of the new tires helped make them a success. Yellow also was the first cab company to install seat belts in the rear of its cabs before they were mandated and was the first to use anti-lock brake systems.
And how could we not mention one of celluloid's most infamous cab drivers, Travis ``You talkin' to me?'' Bickel from the 1976 flick ``Taxi Driver.'' To the best of our knowledge, Jodi Foster's protector was not a Yellow Cab employee-nor has Robert DeNiro ever been.
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk