Press release

Marketing MINI to the Masses: Trudy Hardy

By Tamara Warren

It's the big day for MINI TAKES THE STATES -- the festival at Infinity Park in Denver. Bands are jamming, BMX bikers are flipping and MINI owners are lounging around dozens of MINIs and an autocross route. MINI Marketing Manager Trudy Hardy is in the thick of the action. It’s no exaggeration to say that Hardy has made the journey with MINI. She joined the brand in 2001 to launch MINI as marketing manager and has helped define the hallmarks of MINI culture. “Tell our friends, then tell the world,” she said. “This was our original philosophy and we’ve stayed true to that, though our circle has grown.”

MINI TAKES THE STATES is a major aspect of what it means to be a passionate MINI owner as part of that inner circle. Hardy is responsible for managing the extensive planning and overseeing the manpower required to produce the biannual event. MTTS launched as a onetime event in 2006, but due to the massive owner response, has become what seems to be a biannual event. (MINI has not officially announced plans to host MTTS 2012).

Originally, the company was looking for a way to highlight the connection between Mini Cooper as the featured marque at the 2006 Monterey Historic Automobile Races and the rollout of a special edition MINI GP. They organized the first MTTS rally from Monterey to Lime Rock, Connecticut. The results were overwhelming. Bonds were formed and the rally became the stuff of legends. “The owners screamed for me to do it again,” she said. MINI responded with the regional approach of MINI TAKES THE STATES 2008. While the regional festivals were a hit among enthusiasts in major markets with bands performing, it didn’t bring the entire MINI community together. “It didn’t have the same impact. It lacked the journey,” Hardy said.

Things fell in place for the 2010 MTTS. It just so happened that 2010 coincided with the debut of the 2011 MINI Countryman. “When we first launched in 2001, the question was how do you maintain that niche feel. MINI Takes the States is a great way to that.” By starting off in cities with the largest populations of MINI owners, the Countryman became the focal point at customer events and prominent display points along the route.

Hardy said she didn’t know what the reactions would be to the Countryman, “The world’s getting smaller and MINIs getting bigger, but it’s been great to see the reactions.”
MTTS provided fertile ground to embed the Countryman in MINI culture, and offered a way to tie in dealers in MINI's major markets to do what dealers like best — “Get butts in seats.” The added component is how the community of owners works to push the brand forward. “It’s these people who sell cars on our behalf. We still get through to a well-balanced group of people.”

If the owners have their way, they’ll be back for MTTS 2012. “These people have created friendships,” Hardy said. “They are a community. They’ve fallen in love and started relationships with people they have met traveling in the MINI community. They are social connectors.”