Goodwood festival of speed

Of the many job perks that come with working on an automotive account, the invitation to join MINI UK at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed has to be my favourite so far, (yes, it even surpasses the abundance of M&Ms found around the hps office). Indeed, when I phoned my parents and told them where I was heading on Friday 30 June, the response was a zealous display of jealous mutterings. You win some, you lose some, dad.

Goodwood is indeed an annual pilgrimage for many a petrol head. Although, admittedly I wasn’t there to ogle the F1 cars tackling the infamous hill climb, but to visit the MINI stand and to observe the other brands’ stands for comparison. I do work in marketing after all! I arrived armed with questions to help me discern the wheat from the chaff; which stand brought their brand to life the best, what was the most immersive experience, are there ideas we can implement at a retailer level…? This blog was supposed to be a balancing act; an article to decipher the best proposition for an automotive event stand. It is instead, an ode to MINI, who showed everyone how it’s done. Sorry, but the rest didn’t stand a chance.

The MINI brand is permeated by a ‘WHO’S IN?’ philosophy: there’s a MINI to match everyone, whatever your style. I agree. The five-strong MINI line-up has personalities to suit every need, from ‘the city explorers’ to the ‘outdoor adventurers’. You’d be forgiven for thinking that trying to squeeze five different cars’ ‘personalities’ onto one stand is an impossible feat. How do you portray five completely different model characteristics whilst maintaining brand cohesion? You do it by building a beach, a cobbled street, a garage, a library and a mountain top. I’m not kidding.

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There was a true sense of authenticity to MINI’s stand, but that’s because it didn’t feel real, it was real. I’ve never seen such a permanent, temporary structure. George Clark, eat your heart out. A picturesque cobbled street complete with park bench, lamp post, and café canopy set the scene for the MINI hatch range, perfect ‘for the city explorers’ and ‘the social souls’. The stand didn’t just present the models, it emulated each car’s proposition in the five-strong line-up.

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Then of course, there’s the new MINI Countryman which swapped the red-brick background for cabin-like wooden panelling and rocky turf; its true environment where you’d find the aspirational ‘outdoor-loving’ audience. This car is ‘for the adventurers’.

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The new MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid, (please Father Christmas…can I have one…?) was strategically parked between the new MINI Countryman and the MINI 5-door hatch. With the option of a pure electric commute and exploring on the weekends, it was placed in the perfect spot. A coming-together of the city and the country. Maybe (as a Yorkshire lass in’t South), that’s why I like it.

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Next we have the ever so sophisticated MINI Clubman, the Marmite car of the range. Like it, or loathe it, you cannot deny the car’s got style! The only car parked ‘inside’ within a library. As an English literature grad, I must applaud the choice of novels sitting on the bookshelf. Who’d have thought Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby (written 1839) would become a brand prop for a car, a machine which wasn’t to be invented for another 30 years. This is a car steeped in heritage and Britishness, made ‘for the style visionaries’.

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Next, we were transported to the Caribbean in the MINI Convertible! Set against a bright yellow painted wall complete with a palm tree, you couldn’t help but feel summery looking at this area of the stand. Yes, even in Britain. This model is the perfect choice ‘for the spontaneous sunseekers’.  

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So far on the MINI stand, visitors have experienced cobbled city streets, grassy mountain turf, a leather clad library and the Friday-feeling-inducing Caribbean, but that wasn’t all that MINI had to offer. In one final flourish, a full garage had been constructed to flaunt the jewel in MINI’s crown: the MINI John Cooper Works Hatch.

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Needless to say, this was the area of the stand packed with the budding racing drivers. My dad would probably have been amongst them explaining loudly to me about how to perform the perfect double declutch. The JCW is founded in rally ideology and has engineering at its heart.

Ok, marketing head on, there was lots to take from the day:

  1. Theatre aside, the stand worked so brilliantly because it was supported by reams of MINI product gurus who chatted enthusiastically about their specialist model. Having people to chat to meant that the MINI stand was constantly packed. The stand exemplified engagement and interaction; it wasn’t a mausoleum for high-spec cars.


  1. Visually, it was incredible. The detail and execution of the design was hugely impressive. It exuded lavish styling and high-quality products.


  1. An interactive MINI racing wall in the JCW garage drew in the crowds. The footfall this generated for the stand would no doubt be brilliant at creating a similar effect at a more granular level for retailer events.


  1. An exclusive bar above the stand with a rooftop café celebrated current MINI owners’ VIP status whilst the prospecting job was being done on the floor below. It’s not all out with the old, a classic MINI was given centre stage up on the roof – a symbol of MINI’s authentic British heritage.


  1. Space on an event stand is important and MINI managed to create the perfect balance of prop, pomp and circumstance by actually leaving room for visitors to walk freely around each model. I saw plenty of stands with too many models on display which impeded visitors’ ability to actually see anything, get inside the cars or open the boots.


  1. Nothing, can make you feel more patriotic that watching the red arrows fly in formation over an iconically British brand’s logo.


  1. I challenge anyone after completing a journey around the MINI stand, not to feel excited about the brand. I’m in!


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Account Administrator on the MINI campaign team. Lover of all things literature, blues music and food related.

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