Free Love and the Mini


For those from the 1960’s such a pairing might trigger nostalgia. But in the new millennium, what does this mean? Believe it or not, the former is hot, emerging branding strategy for a media-saturated populace.

This week, en route from Vienna, via Munich to CeBIT and on to Berlin, my European Verdexus partner Suresh Patel, and I had an opportunity to see the mantra of “free love” marketing techniques playing out on the strassen and autobahnen of Austria and Germany.

Niki Lauda‘s eponymous and innovative car rental cum advertising company LaudaMotion in Vienna, rents a brand new BMW Mini car for an amazing 20. And, given Suresh’s obsession with carbon neutrality, a Mini is definitely planet friendly. Our Mini came painted out in the badge of the same Niki Lauda’s, which includes flights between London and Vienna for as low as £1. The business model of such low cost airlines is probably a topic for another day. As well, today we saw Smart Cars and Minis advertising SkyEurope, Allianz, etc.

Clearly this business, of transforming rental customers like us into moving billboards, is predicated on us driving around a whole lot and in areas with good “viewer” demographics. The pricing model, which among other things, encourages in-city travel, by including only 100 km/day, attempts to optimize eyeballs, and the right ones at that. Unfortunately for LaudaMotion, our circle trip around Germany significantly strays from their demographic sweet spot.

Anyway, this type of free (or almost free) stuff combined with product placement is well described in this month’s (March 2008) TrendSpotting briefing.
Enjoy! As much as we love Hertz (or Sixt), we certainly enjoyed a unique car rental experience.

Isn’t this post Web 1.0, mobile enabled world, way more interesting than the 1950’s Procter and Gamble, soap-opera style of advertising?