Seems as though making the common uncommon is baked inside the company culture of MINI USA. MINI made the common car uncommon. Through its ad agency, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky (CP+B), MINI made the common advertising campaign uncommon. And now since CP+B resigned the MINI ad account in favor of a much larger Volkswagon assignment, MINI USA has made the common ad agency selection process uncommon.
The normal way companies select ad agencies is to use an outside selection firm to manage the RFP process and then a select number of agencies are invited to make their pitch to the company in a series of boardroom meetings. Afterwards, the company selects their ad agency of record.
MINI began its search for a new ad agency using the normal process of hiring an outside firm to ferret through proposals. However, once MINI narrowed the list of ad agency candidates down to four, things got uncommon … very uncommon.
MINI CEO Jim McDowell organized a weekend-long “boot camp” immersion where all four remaining candidates performed in front of each other. The first assignment McDowell gave the ad agencies was to introduce themselves to each other by creating interesting name tags on the spot. Next, McDowell tested the quick-thinking improv skills of the agencies by asking them offbeat questions like, “If Arnold Schwarzenegger runs for President, who should be his running mate?”
During the boot camp, the agencies were sent out on a scavenger hunt in rainy weather to drive MINI Coopers and collect items to be used in a scrapbook which were later presented in front of MINI marketers and the other ad agencies.
After the boot camp, one agency dropped out citing chemistry differences. The three remaining agencies had open access to the MINI team but McDowell again did something uncommon – he gave each agency open access to every nugget of information requested by one agency. If one agency requested something, McDowell shared that something with every agency.
McDowell put these agencies through this uncommon pitch process “… to get closer to how each agency thought, behaved, and went about their business when unexpected situations were thrown at them.”
MINI ultimately selected Butler Shine as their new ad agency.
SOURCE: BusinessWeek | Getting Creative With Mad Ave (sub. req’d) | Feb. 6, 2006