It began as a cool marketing move by BMW: paying a paltry sum to have the name of its Mini Cooper Roadster associated with the cold snap engulfing Europe. But the car firm will rueing its decision now, after the freezing weather killed more than 130 people and sent over 500 to hospital.
The Independent newspaper in the UK reports that Mini paid just €299 (about $NZ470) to name the weather system "Cooper", a practice only allowed in Germany and the USA. Temperatures plummeted as low as -33C, as the cold front from Siberia worked its way across Europe. It raises questions about the practice of allowing companies to sponsor high and low pressure weather systems. The company was planning to name another low pressure area "Minnie" later this year.
A company spokeswoman told The Independent that it regretted people had died as a result of Cooper. "Of course we are sorry. It was not intentional, you cannot tell in advance what a weather system will do".
BMW has issued a hasty release, saying it "regrets very much" that the "Cooper" front was inflicting "catastrophic" damage and causing many deaths.
The stunt has back-fired badly on the Munich-based advertising agency Sassenbach, which BMW uses to promote its Mini. The agency said that it had decided on weather sponsorship because it wanted a 'wind and weatherproof idea'. It even encouraged visitors to follow Cooper's 'beautiful weather' online. No-one from Sassenbach was prepared comment on the campaign.
Perhaps they should consider sponsoring fine weather? Kiwi meat marketers Hellers recently teamed up with Metservice, the country’s most-viewed weather website by a country mile, for a unique sponsorship that aims to connect sun with patties. With the Metservice site, however, Heller only show a barbecue icon next to the sun icon when there is a good forecast. Visitors can then scroll over the BBQ icon for a meatier brand experience, supported with a takeover of all homepage advertising and a custom ad unit under the weather warnings. Now if only the weather would play nice.
Watties Baked Beans Wind warnings?