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The Challenge: In 2009, the economy sucker-punched the auto industry. Sales dropped by 33% overall. And 2010 was showing no signs of relief. But the recession had affected much more than just sales. It had affected the American psyche. People had become much more cautious, conservative, and serious. It had become a culture of wait-and-see, second-guessing, and agonizing over decisions. 

The Strategy: As a brand that had always been the underdog with a can-do spirit, MINI was perfectly poised to provide a counter-culture view to all this seriousness. It was the perfect window for MINI to reassert itself as the endearing, cultural challenger that the brand is and always has been.

The Execution: In typical MINI fashion, we decided to punch above our weight class. On June 7th, 2010, MINI took out a full-page color ad in the New York Times in the form of an open letter to Porsche. We gave them the time, we gave them the date, and we told everyone else to follow the challenge on MINI's Facebook page. The next day, we released a viral video from the president of MINI USA, Jim McDowell, addressing the president of Porsche, Detlev Von Platsen.

When Porsche regretfully declined, we quickly released another video  from President to President. We started a petition on Facebook spurring fans to show their support for the race, resulting in over 15,000 signatures. We taunted Porsche with aerial banners flying over their corporate headquarters in Atlanta, goading them to accept our challenge. The banners read, "Dear Porsche, Bring It! Love, MINI" Porsche's silence actually made the buzz even stronger, and the debate even better.

After two weeks of intense conversation, debate, and speculation by both MINI and Porsche fans, auto industry press and bloggers, and many curious observers, it was time for race day on June 21st, 2010. The actual event streamed on Facebook and was attended live by hundreds of fans. Despite Porsche winning by two seconds, MINI clearly came out on top. The full experience now lives on at every MINI Dealer in the U.S. through a five-minute in-showroom video.

Results: On the day that the NYT challenge ran, online posts instantly increased tenfold. The level of buzz was maintained at five to ten times normal levels throughout the campaign. MINI's Facebook page views, which usually hovered around 1,000 per day, spiked to 82,000 on the day of the race. In total, the MINI vs. Porsche Facebook page generated 430,000 views, 15,000 petition signatures, and almost 8,000 new fans. MINI's Facebook interaction during the campaign increased by 3,000 percent.

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