On Sunday, MINIUSA’s new ad agency Butler, Shine, Stern, and Partners (BSSP) welcomed roughly 80 Northern California MINI owners to their Sausalito headquarters. The days events included a group drive organized in conjunction with Larry Paqutte of the NorCal MINIs and a presentation on BSSP’s plans for the remainder of the 2006 MINIUSA ad campaign.

I drove up from Los Angeles along with a couple other MINI owners to take part in the BSSP drive and a second unaffiliated drive around San Francisco Saturday night.

In typical MINI fashion, MINI owners started rolling into BSSP half an hour or more in advance of the official start at 8 AM Sunday. As happens anywhere the MINI community gathers in significant numbers (two or greater), MINI owners freely mingled, chatting with old MINI friends and meeting some new ones along the way.

Following a continental breakfast, there was a drivers meeting to discuss the route, and a little after 9 AM we were on the road headed for the first stop at the top of Mt. Tamalpais. With a spectacular view of the entire Bay Area, Mt. Tam didn’t disappoint. From there, the drive traveled north along the coast to Pt. Reyes by way of legendary Highway 1, before looping inland, and eventually returning to BSSP for a catered lunch.

As was first mentioned here on MotoringFile in December in MINI Advertising – A look ahead MINIUSA and BSSP will be making some adjustments to the advertising message by increasing the emphasis on the community. That combined with the change in ad agencies has caused some to voice concern about how dramatic of a change we are in store for now that BSSP is in the driver’s seat. Based on what we were shown in a presentation following lunch, a seamless transition from Crispin to Butler Shine appears to have taken place.

Looking at the new ads, unless you already knew, one would never guess that significant changes at MINIUSA and with the ad agency responsible for the advertising had taken place. The tone, message, and look/feel of the end product remain top notch and pitch perfect. Many owners in the room were very pleased with what was shown. I’ll have more on what’s in store and some background on the Motoring Hearts campaign later in the week.