MINIUSA’s previous ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky is featured in the cover story of the May 22 issue of BusinessWeek.   The article focuses mainly on Crispin’s recent work for Volkswagen of America, but their work for MINIUSA is also touched on. 

BusinessWeek :: The Craziest Ad Guys In America

The following are brief excerpts from the BusinessWeek article.  The full article is worth the click above if you have the time to spare on a Friday.

In launching the GTI and reviving the Volkswagen brand in general, Crispin faced two challenges. First, since the debut of the New Beetle, the VW brand has become feminized, says Keller. Loyal young males who were hanging on to VW by a thread needed to be reassured. Too many men had come to view VW as a “chick’s brand.” Worse, women were turning away from VW because of quality issues. Second, VW loyalists had become baffled about the pricey Phaeton and Touareg and loaded Jettas with price tags topping $30,000. A decade into the popularity of small SUVs priced under $25,000, VW has none. “Affordable German engineering is a huge part of VW’s DNA, and these decisions really confused customers,” says Tom Birk, Crispin vice-president for research and planning.

Crispin’s employee handbook says advertising is “anything that makes our clients famous.”

Crispin may offer a new slogan sometime in 2007. For now, it’s giving each model its own campaign. It just re-launched the Jetta with ads that are far from funky or sexy. In an about-face from its usual humorous tack, Crispin spotlights the car’s top side-impact safety ratings. And like almost everything else the agency does, even these sober-as-a-judge ads have stirred conversation. In one, two couples are chatting as they drive away from a movie house. The driver is distracted and gets creamed by an SUV in real time. The effect on the TV viewer is jolting. The ad moves from the crash to the people standing by, shaky but unharmed, looking at the crushed car. A survivor says, “Holy…,” and the ad cuts to a video frame that says “Safe Happens.” Requests for Jetta brochures went up 30% after the ads’ debut. And dozens of newspapers and NBC’s The Today Show have reported on their jarring quality. “When [Today Show host] Matt Lauer talks for seven minutes about our ads, I know it’s right,” says Santa Monica (Calif.) VW dealer Mike Sullivan. GTI sales are at 20-year highs, and VW sales overall are up 20% this year since Crispin’s ads began.