Mini got some global product publicity from this SPCA marketing demonstration out of New Zealand.
JAMIE LaREAU

Mini gets a doggone good plug with canine cars

Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News.
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Using dogs to sell cars is nothing new.

But using cars to sell dogs? That's a new one.

As part of a marketing campaign for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Auckland, New Zealand, the group took a pair of abandoned pups and taught them how to drive a car.

That's right, the dogs are driving the cars.

One dog, Porter, a 10-month-old Bearded Collie cross, drove a Mini Countryman around a track. Then Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer, took a spin around that track in his canine-modified Mini. Both dogs had some human help with a trainer outside the window giving verbal commands.

The SPCA's goal was to demonstrate the intelligence of rescue dogs to encourage adoptions.

The whole thing is humorous and endearing, garnering quite a bit of global media attention, including a live broadcast in New Zealand of the dogs passing the driving tests.

Subaru of America has used dogs to sell cars with its "Dog Tested. Dog Approved.," ad campaign earlier this year. Other manufacturers have featured dogs in advertising too.

So, I have to wonder about Mini's marketing role in this canine caper?

A Mini spokeswoman wasn't sure (and she could not reach her New Zealand colleagues to confirm if Mini had participated in it or not). But she said in an email, "We just launched our Not Normal Brand campaign, and this initiative seems to be a perfect tie-in."

Indeed.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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