The following is the official MINI USA press release detailing the Motorby Pilot program we reported on a few weeks back. For more articles on this topic please click the MINI Ads category link above or in the “Browse by Category” link on the top left of the site.

MINI USA Press Release: Imagine MINI owner Scott is driving down the highway. He’s checking out the billboards – phone companies (snore)… online casinos (no thanks)… “MOTOR LIKE YOU MEAN IT, SCOTT!” (Hold on! Say what?). Scott has just experienced personalized “talking” billboards – the latest innovation from MINI USA, which will be the first to use advanced technology to communicate directly with its consumers with the introduction of MINI Motorby. Commuters who are tired of seeing billboards with the same mind-numbing out-of-home copy will instead be greeted by MINI Motorboards. These boards feature an ever-changing array of unique, personal, playful and unexpected messages targeted to and triggered by MINI owners. Messages will be spelled out in lights on billboards in locations in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami beginning January 2007.

To “deliver” their Motorby messages, MINI will utilize Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology – or, as MINI likes to call it, “Really Fun Interactive Devices.” RFID, which is used in everything from passports and credit cards to pet IDs, tollbooths and even ski lifts, has never been used as a means of communication with customers – until now. With this groundbreaking new use of RFID, MINI will engage its community in a conversation in a fun, engaging, dynamic and personalized way.

The conversation between Motorboard and motorist begins online when MINI owners who want to be part of the program answer spirited questions about themselves and most importantly, how they feel about motoring and their MINI. When owners visit the MINI Motorby website, they will be able to fill out the simple Motorby questionnaire. Some questions are as straightforward as a birth date while others are more detailed inquiries, including “What adjective best describes how you motor?” and “What is your MINI’s nick-name?”

An electronic key fob – a small hardware device with built-in authentication mechanisms – will then be sent to the owner. The fob, which fits on a regular keychain, electronically communicates with the MINI Motorboard as the MINI driver approaches and triggers a personalized message that will entertain awe and delight the driver. Drivers might be greeted with Motorboards that take a playful dig at their chosen profession. For example, a lawyer’s message might be, “MOVING AT THE SPEED OF JUSTICE!” Other drivers may receive a message that plays on what they perceive as the best feature of their MINI; owners who covet their car’s size can have a laugh at a billboard displaying, “ACTUALLY, SIZE DOES MATTER.” Of course when all else fails, MINI knows there’s nothing quite like flattery… so, don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of a billboard declaring, “NICE ROOF GRAPHIC, ROCKET!”

“Motorby is all about creating unique MINI experiences and leveraging new technologies to engage owners and prospects,” said Kate Alini, Marketing Communications Manager of MINI USA. “We are excited to be the first to use RFID technology to communicate directly with our owners in a customized and unexpected way. And, even though the messages are individually personalized, we still expect them to elicit more than a few smiles from all motorists who witness the Motorboards.”

“This is the ultimate one-to-one creative execution, and it’s perfectly aligned with everything we’re trying to do with MINI,” said John Butler, Executive Creative Director and Founding Partner at Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners, MINI USA’s ad agency. “MINI has a long history of building its brand with unique, never been done before creative, and Motorby is just the latest example. Each owner in the MINI community is unique, and they each deserve messaging custom tailored to their interests and passions.”

Motorby dynamically generates customized content to MINI owners carrying active RFID tags in real-time. Content is created using a number of factors, including information provided by the owners, geography, time, and other general information. When not displaying custom messages, the boards show content that’s relevant to MINI or the location of the board. The RFID technology deployed allows users to be identified from up to 500 feet while carrying their key fob, either while driving or carrying it on foot. The system is based on a distributed model, in which content programming and administration is managed through a central server, which in turn coordinates with client nodes that are on the outdoor boards. The central server updates content hourly, or even on-demand if desired, allowing for near real-time communication.

The RFID tags do not contain any user data, and use cryptographic protocols to maximize customer privacy. The displays are standard LED displays and can be programmed to display content in a variety of formats. This allows for flexibility, and can eventually be coupled with any digital media, including rich media and sound.

The Motorby key fob can only be used near one of the four MINI Motorboards. No personal data or information is contained on the key fob. The information provided by the survey questions will not be used or given to third parties.

Where you can find Motorby
MINI Motorby will launch on Monday, January 29, 2007 at four select locations across the country. These locations are:

CHICAGO: I-294 (North Tri-State), .25 mile south of Wolf Road, south of Chicago O’Hare airport (faces southbound traffic).

MIAMI: Palmetto Expressway, 25 feet north of NW 50th Street (faces northbound traffic).

NEW YORK: 10TH Avenue & 30TH Street, just before the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel (faces northbound traffic).

SAN FRANCISCO: 1-80 Skyway at 4th Street (faces eastbound traffic)

All locations can be found on the MINI website.