Probably not on the track but they're definitely sitting P1 in the grassroots marketing grid. You see, a little over a week ago, Mini USA CEO Jim McDowell (a former Porsche employee no less) publicly challenged Porsche to a race at Road Atlanta on the 21st of this month. The winner would get bragging rights, a cool T-Shirt (see the video below and you'll get an idea for the flavor of this challenge) and some great press.
Porsche declined the challenge and did so with an open letter to Mini
Imagine our surprise to discover our former employee, now the head of Mini, has challenged us to a head-to-head race. As you surely know, Porsche has a long history of racing success, with more than 28,000 wins over the last 60 years. In our early days, we pitted ourselves against the giants, so we’ve been in your shoes.
But as you also know, Porsche doesn’t race for fame, stunts or publicity. We race to challenge ourselves; we race to push sports car technology; we race to translate every win on the track to our cars on the road. If you need a reminder of our intent, please take a look at this short video: http://tinyurl.com/37xdjqx
While your challenge seems like a fun and lighthearted campaign, we’ll stick to racing the way we have over the decades. We welcome you at Sebring, Le Mans, Daytona or any other sanctioned race where there is more at stake than T-shirts and valet parking spaces. We also invite you to any of the thousands of tracks around the world where Porsche owners compete each weekend.
Good luck with your race at Road Atlanta on June 21; we hope you enjoy the day.
Detlev Von Platen President and CEO, Porsche Cars North America
Mini doesn't give up
In a move destined for the automotive marketing hall of fame, Mini responded to Detlev's letter by hiring a plane to fly laps around Porsche's headquarter with a banner taunting the racing giant.
To prove they were "serious", Mini issued a second challenge. This time upping the stakes even higher...
Right now it's Two to Zero and Mini is winning
The fact is, there really are no losers in this type of campaign. It's fun, it get's the public involved and it's good PR for both companies. Let's hope that Porsche comes up with a creative response to keep things going.
The gauntlet has been thrown down. Will Porsche accept?
[Source: Youtube, Jalopnik, PCNA]