Taxi 2 drives Mini around the world

From the Minimalism website to the 'Hands Up' guerrilla campaign, the agency's work keeps going global.

Since the Mini first launched in Canada in 2002, the world has been taking notice of creative done here at home. Back when Mini had only been here a few years, its Canadian AOR Taxi 2 took the opportunity to capitalize on the Toronto Auto Show by placing a Mini in a cage in a parking lot across the street with a sign that read “Please do not feed, tease, or annoy the Mini.” It succeeded in capturing the attention of Auto Show journalists, as well as the public (who tried to feed it sandwiches and bananas).
When it was over, instead of dismantling the cage, it was transported across Canada to B.C., as well as to the U.S., Italy and other parts of Europe.
“When I meet with representatives from the other Mini company countries, they look to the work we’re doing in Canada and think it’s progressive and gets noticed,” says Lance Martin, ECD at Taxi 2.
“I know they’re looking to Canada and Canadian creativity as a benchmark globally.”
It’s no wonder, then, that when corporate HQ wanted a website to explain its CO2 emissions technology, it turned to Canada. In 2007, Taxi 2 created a Canadian 3D website called Turbovision that took intimidating subjects like engines and keyless entry, and presented them with Mini’s cheeky voice, in an easy-to-digest way (Turbovision was later picked up in China). When Mini’s head office saw the site, they asked Taxi 2 to come up with a way to explain its eco-friendly features, such as start-stop technology and brake energy regeneration.
The result was a new site called Minimalism, and the premise was that since the car only uses the amount of energy it needs, visitors to the site could select the length of the message they wanted to hear – whether they wanted to hear about an aspect of the car for two seconds or a full minute, it was up to the user.
The site went on to win a Gold Lion at Cannes. When Martin asked one of the judges why Minimalism won over its automotive competitors, he said, “the fact that it had paid attention to copywriting compared to a lot of other automotive sites…That we have a tone of voice for Mini and a way we bring it to life, and a cheekiness, which rewards people for spending time learning about a car engine.”
The site has since been adopted in 50 different countries, and Minimalism has gone on to mean more than a website, but a global platform for Mini’s environmental messaging, used on any eco-related communications. A transcript of the website was even used in internal training manuals by the engineering department in Germany.
And the Canadian creativity keeps on travelling. A guerrilla stunt called “Hands Up” debuted in Toronto this past spring, which featured a fake set of arms made to look like the driver was holding his arms in the air, like on a rollercoaster, while driving around in a Mini convertible. Footage of the stunt was presented at a global Mini conference, and since then Mini hands have been created in Japan, Taiwan, Dubai and Russia.
“When we did the ‘Hands Up’ piece, we really saw the goodwill towards the brand because everyone, hundreds of people, threw their hands up as we drove by, it was amazing,” says Martin. “They were open to embracing the Mini and having some fun with it and it’s really great to see that you’ve built some strong brand equity.”
When asked why Canada is leading the way in creativity for Mini, Martin credits the agency’s relationship with the client.
“They come in and understand how great they have to be in order to stand out, and they don’t water down what we present to them. In fact sometimes they’re quite willing to help us take it to the next level,” he says. “I think the fact that we’ve always produced great sales for Mini here in Canada also helps the rest of the globe see that it’s not just irreverent work, it’s work that’s driving year over year sales results. I think that makes them say, ‘Hey, let’s take notice of this, because not only is it funny or interesting, but they’re selling units.’”

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