This is either an amazingly cool and smart marketing idea or the dumbest ad campaign ever, I’m not quite sure. Who is responsible if a distracted driver plows his Mini into someone while reading their personalized message?

Each day, it seems, marketers go further in their quest to deliver messages so engaging and personalized that one cannot help feeling special.

The latest step will be seen Monday in four cities when Mini USA begins delivering custom messages to Mini Cooper owners on digital signs the company calls “talking” billboards.

The boards, which usually carry typical advertising, are programmed to identify approaching Mini drivers through a coded signal from a radio chip embedded in their key fob. The messages are personal, based on questionnaires that owners filled out: “Mary, moving at the speed of justice,” if Mary is a lawyer, or “Mike, the special of the day is speed,” if Mike is a chef.

On second thought, this is one of the most stupid advertising campaigns I’ve ever seen.

  1. tallwookie says:

    what about the people from poland or greece or some african country that have like 12+ letters in thier last name? Stanopoloushi comes to mind

  2. Anonymous Coward says:

    Oh man, I can see it now. Messages like, “James Hill, you look like a dick in that Mustang!”

  3. edwinrogers says:

    It might be useful for other things, besides pampering to vanity. Like, changing traffic lights to green as a Mini approaches. Prepaying a gasoline pump. Telling the burger drive-in staff your name and regular meal preference. Opening the garage door. The RFID on my hirecar in London opened public carpark barrier arms.

  4. james hatsis says:

    Whoo Hoo… can’t wait to see what mini has to tell me … “Payment’s late James”

  5. Tom says:

    Personally, I think it is a pretty cool idea.

  6. Mark Derail says:

    some harmless fun, please one-up me on these

    Lauren the Ghoti‘s driving by would say, I LOVE MY MAC/MINI

    Mr. Fusion‘s would say, POWRD BY FUSION

    Smartalix‘s would say, THIS COULD BE COOL…

    tallwookie‘s would say, THIS IS MY A-WING

    Pedro‘s would say, well, he wouldn’t drive a Mini now would he? Overpriced, under-sized, …

    Me? I’d have it say, flashing, T I L T T I L T T I L T

  7. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    I dunno, I ‘spect my msg might say “Lauren – Got your license back so soon??”

  8. bac says:

    Too bad the RFID couldn’t be linked with a lowjack system, that way when someone steals the car the signs will report the stolen car.

  9. What a handy dandy mechanism for carjackers so they threaten you by name.

  10. Whaapp! says:

    Will probably cause a lot of accidents.
    Attractive nuisance, won’t last (HOPEFULLY).

  11. Harold K. says:

    If I owned a Mini I would return it immediately.

    Where I drive and when I drive is my business and I don’t want my name on some billboard. Yes it might only be a first name, but now I am a traget.

    I would sue for sure.

  12. Dimension says:

    Yeah, in about 10 more minutes there is going to be an ascii goatse scrolling across there. Mark my words.

  13. bac says:

    A few more thoughts.

    Could dealerships use the RFID signal to place ads on their signs as you drive by?

    Could supermarkets also use the RFID signal to find out who owns the car with its lights on in their parking lot? Even though the RFID thing is in the car keys and not the car, this could change.

    Will cellphones ever be able to read RFID tags? A person might be able to find all their stuff with their cellphone. A possible solution for loosing ones car in a hug e parking lot.

  14. TJGeezer says:

    Since it’s based on questionnaires the owners fill out, anonymity fanatics could simply decline to fill it out. If I had a Mini, I’d fill the q’aire out with a name like Dumbya and expect messages like “Dumbya, go home now” or maybe “Dumbya, slow down, cowboy.”


    haha cool!
    i could see mine now,and how many times have you gotten your license how many times??????


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