Looking to market its most popular vehicle, MINI USA has teamed up with British singer-songwriter Labrinth for a new commercial. The spot, created by MINI’s ad agency Pereira & O’Dell, features Labrinth singing the Cole Porter song “Don’t Fence me In”, driving the Countryman through LA and to a studio session.
Here’s a bit more about the song and how the spot came together from Variety:
Labrinth’s interpretation comes with updated lyrics that place the song’s pastoral, country backdrop in a more cosmopolitan setting. To wit: “Let me ride through wide open country that I love” becomes “Let me ride through the high-flying city that I love,” while “Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze” is swapped out for “And listen to the murmur of the tall concrete.” And those horse riding references — “Let me straddle my old saddle?” Labrinth prefers “Let me spin in my wheels, let me run away with my thoughts” as he breezes past the Long Beach city limits.
The creative flourish was one of several that Labrinth took the liberty of adding himself, according to Patrick McKenna, department head of MINI Brand Communications, who credits Labrinth’s on-the-rise status and personal history with the vehicle for his cherry-picked appearance in the campaign. “Labrinth rose to the top [of considered artists] because he’s a producer, singer and songwriter and he covers multiple genres,” McKenna says. “And he’s a MINI owner — he actually had a MINI in the music video for ‘Earthquake’ back in 2011. So this is where it was a combination of a great backstory and him being an absolute pleasure to work with. When you factored in the publishing rights for the song, and having Labrinth on board, it became a major initiative on our part.”
Once the rights hurtle was overcome, McKenna still faced a challenge with selling the idea to MINI’s international partners as the soundtrack to a global campaign. “It’s very much an old cowboy song, so you have to explain that to Italy, France, Germany, Japan, China and even Korea,” he says. “But everyone embraced it; everyone inside the company loves it. Our CEO has it on his phone. So people are just generally thrilled with the outcome.”
MINI has a recent track record in helping break songs on a global level, having helped singer-songwriter Alice Merton score her first top 5 hit on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart last March by selecting her breakthrough single “No Roots” for its 2018 Super Bowl campaign. McKenna hopes the same can still happen for “Don’t Fence Me In” some eight decades after its initial incarnation.
“This song could potentially have an even bigger global stage now than it did” in the 1940s, McKenna says. “We really think that driving experience can be a creative space so impactful that it can have this type of inspiration to it. That was kind of the original premise, and all of this great work came from that basic idea.”
You can read more about the making of the spot at Variety.
Does the spot work? It’s a new take on MINI USA marketing and one that is clearly meant to appeal to the masses. Our quick take is that we generally like the approach and love song and overall beauty of the spot. What do you think? Does it hit the mark for a mass market ad from MINI? Lets us know below.