Mini USA Challenges Porsche – Wins on Publicity Front…


You may have seen the full page ads where the Mini is calling out Porsche.  Part of a campaign developed by Mini’s agency’s Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, there is an extensive Facebook component ( which includes a very funny video where the Mini U.S. president Jim McDowell throws down the gauntlet.

The gist… McDowell (formerly of Porsche) wants Porsche USA president Detlev von Platen to meet him at Road Atlanta (convenient to Porsche’s Georgia HQ) on June 21 with the drivers of their choice. Should Porsche win, McDowell will sport a shirt saying the Porsche is faster than the Mini.

Basically, in one corner, it is the 172 hp Mini Cooper S. In the other, the 385 hp Porsche 911 Carrera S.

A story in the Post & Courier talked about the challenge and reasons why Porsche would hesitate to accept.  Brad Davis, general manager of Hendrick Imports in Charleston and a Mini driver in sports car races primarily in the Southeast, commented on how the course that Mini set up doesn’t cover all of Road Atlanta, but is actually an autocross track with lots of tight turns and few straightaways to pick up speed.

“We stacked the deck a little,” Davis said.

The story also noted how Porsche would be in a “lose-lose” situation. If Porsche wins the race, it will be seen as no surprise. If Porsche loses, Mini will have a huge publicity maker. And if the German sports-car maker stays on the sidelines, it will seem like sour grapes. Plus, Mini has bought a Porsche and will hold a race, with or without the company’s participation.

If you go to the Mini USA Facebook page, and read the comments on the wall, it is clear that publicity-wise, Mini has already won.

And for the record, it appears that Porsche HAS declined. The letter can be found here.  Here are some snippets:

“Imagine our surprise to discover our former employee, now the head of Mini, has challenged us to a head-to-head race. As you surely know, Porsche has a long history of racing success, with more than 28,000 wins over the last 60 years. In our early days, we pitted ourselves against the giants, so we’ve been in your shoes.

But as you also know, Porsche doesn’t race for fame, stunts or publicity. We race to challenge ourselves; we race to push sports car technology; we race to translate every win on the track to our cars on the road…”

“…While your challenge seems like a fun and lighthearted campaign, we’ll stick to racing the way we have over the decades.”

Smartly handled by Porsche. But, as mentioned, a publicity win big-time for Mini USA.


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