Marketing Creative Works Olympics

How Mini’s Olympics campaign created a new tool in the sports marketer’s playbook


By Jenni Baker | Senior Editor

February 21, 2023 | 6 min read

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Redtorch’s new podcast series about great sports campaigns pops the hood on what drove the success of the mini Minis at the Olympics.

Olympic mini MINI

Remote-controlled mini Minis whizzed around Olympic regulations to steal the show at the London 2012 Olympics

Remember that time a fleet of remote-controlled mini Minis whizzed around Olympic regulations to steal the show at the London 2012 Olympics? Sponsorship legend Tim Crow, the former chief executive of sports marketing agency Synergy, certainly does – and he’s opened up about how the brand managed to pull off such a breakthrough marketing manoeuvre.

“The Olympic stadium is a clean bowl with no logos allowed so everybody wanted to know how these Minis were allowed. The answer was very simple…” he tells Matt Weiner, creative director at Redtorch, marking the launch of the new monthly SportOnCreative podcast series. The series explores the most exciting and creative sports campaigns, told by the people who made them.

“In many ways, this campaign was the pinnacle because of the context,” says Crow. “If you’re in sports marketing, you really have to rise to the challenge and it’s tough because you have to be exceptionally creative. You don’t get logos or media in the stadium which makes it unbelievably difficult to cut through the noise especially when everybody is trying to produce their best work.”

The mini Mini campaign in question saw a fleet of remote control Minis retrieve javelins, hammers, discus and shots at the Olympic Stadium during the London 2012 Olympics. It required a level of creative bravery which was essential “to cut through and generate headlines,” explains Crow.

Watch/listen to the first episode When mini Minis stole the show here.

Brand synergy was an essential requirement to make it work, as Crow goes on to explain: “Fun was the key thing that we wanted to get across. There are other car brands who have followed us, but Mini is such a distinctive brand that it’s perfect for this activity. When you see a Nissan or Toyota come onto the field of play it’s just not quite as much fun.”

When it comes to planning effective sports campaigns, having a good strategy is not just about what you’re going to do, but what you’re not going to do. “There are so many things that you could do,” says Crow, “but if you have a great strategy, when opportunities come along you are able to very quickly know whether they are the right fit or not.”

During the episode, Crow reveals his biggest lessons from working on the Mini campaign, the power of chemistry between teams, why it pays to maintain an element of surprise, and why “the greatest campaigns are the ones when only that brand could do it.”

Speaking at the launch of the new podcast series, Redtorch’s Matt Weiner says: “We’ve launched this series to uncover insights that will help marketing professionals to take their game to the next level. Creativity is one of the most important drivers of marketing effectiveness so listening to the SportOnCreative podcast is like getting a cheat code.”

The full podcast is available to listen and watch on all major podcast platforms, including Spotify, Apple, Google and Amazon. Future guests include the founder of Frank, PR guru Andrew Bloch, on how he convinced snooker star Jimmy White to change his name to Jimmy Brown, cooking up a PR sensation for sponsors of The Masters, HP Sauce.

Check out the SportOnCreative podcast here.

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Marketing Creative Works Olympics

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