German automaker fields star-studded lineup in SB50 ad

Mini has never been the kind of company that adhered to the norms of the industry. For the longest time, it adopted an image that went against the grain, at least compared to how other automakers conduct themselves. For better or worse, that whole image has stuck with Mini, which is why its ad for the Super Bowl, called “Defy Limits”, is a perfect representation of the company as a whole.

It’s easy to get lost in that whole notion of Mini being the “renegade” of sorts in the industry because in a lot of ways, the company itself has stoked that fire numerous times in the past. It has openly embraced it and ran with it to get to where its at right now, even at the cost of being labeled as a company that never took itself seriously.

The ad, which is a commercial for the Mini Clubman, takes the same approach by enlisting some of the biggest names in the sports and music industries, a lot of whom share the same qualities as Mini, or in this case, the Clubman. Tennis star Serena Williams, recently retired soccer player Abby Wambach, baseball Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, and rapper T-Pain are a few of the prominent names to appear in the ad.

Each of these people have dealt with stereotypes and labels in their careers and more often than not, these labels were created in ways to limit the accomplishments they’ve earned in their careers. Fair or not, that’s the world we live in. The message of the ad is to break through these labels that were designed to cap the kind of success these celebrities have had in their careers. Mini can relate to that because in addition to being labelled as gimmicky in the past, it has also had to deal with its cars being labeled a “chick” car, a “gay” car, “too small”, and “not a performance car”.

But, just because people say it, that doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s up to the person to decide if they’re going to be defined by these labels or if they’re going to defy and shed them so they can be the ones to define themselves.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

Mini Looks To Defy Labels With Super Bowl 50 Commercial
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I admit to being guilty of putting my own labels on Mini, so I’m actually happy to see the company address its supposed “image problems” with this commercial. It’s a beautiful ad that has my vote as (so far) the best commercial of Super Bowl 50.

If I’m being honest, my reaction upon seeing the ad fed into that whole notion of Mini, as Harvey Keitel put it, not caring what you call it. I was surprised with the approach of the ad because it wasn’t what Mini was so used to doing. I imagined a commercial that feeds into the reputation of Mini as a gimmicky brand. I didn’t expect to see something like this, especially the way the company used all of these famous people to bring home the message of the ad.

That’s the beauty of this ad. On the surface, it wants to promote the Clubman, but it does so in a way that it sends a great message to a lot of people. In Mini’s case, the company is proud of being labeled a gay car or a chick car, but in doing so, it also showed that it’s more than the things people have described it to be. That should resonate to a lot of people, especially those who can understand the feeling of being labeled by those around them.

Well done, Mini. It’s a beautiful commercial.

Mini Clubman

2016 Mini Clubman
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Read our full review on the Mini Clubman here.

Press Release

As more than 100 million viewers around the world prepare to tune into the Super Bowl on February 7, MINI is unveiling its star-studded 30-second spot, set to air in the third quarter of the year’s biggest night in television advertising. The ad is already available on the campaign’s microsite at

Mini Looks To Defy Labels With Super Bowl 50 Commercial
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The ad, created by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP), embraces many of the labels the brand has experienced over the years with a very powerful message: it doesn’t care what you call it. “Defy Labels,” has its roots in the fact that everyone and everything is labeled but how you handle those labels is what matters. With defiance at its core, the campaign inspires people to shed the labels society has placed upon them and instead define themselves.

“Ever since the first Mini was built in 1959, it has been labeled as one thing or another. It’s small. It’s cute,” said Tom Noble, department head, MINI Brand Communications, MINI USA. “This campaign acknowledges those labels in a very authentic way while simultaneously showing people MINI is more than that. With the launch of the new Clubman, our brand is growing up, our products are more sophisticated, and its time to reset the conversation.”

The brand worked with an ensemble cast of athletes and celebrities to help start that conversation. Staying true to the nature of the campaign, MINI wanted to include personalities that had a relationship to the brand and could also speak authentically about the topic of overcoming labels. The spot includes tennis player Serena Williams, soccer player Abby Wambach, rapper T-Pain, baseball player Randy Johnson, skateboard legend Tony Hawk, and actor Harvey Keitel. Each also filmed a series of long-form interviews sharing their own perspectives about labels that are available on the campaign microsite at

In addition to the celebrities and athletes listed above, the “Defy Labels” advertisement will feature non-celebrity MINI owners and members of the MINI John Cooper Works racing team, who also choose to be a bit different and break convention.

“This powerful concept leverages the brand’s new sophisticated positioning, with a little bit of the MINI attitude that’s always been there,” said John Butler, chief creative officer, BSSP. “It goes beyond a typical celebrity endorsement. This creative is all about not letting others define you, or for that matter, what you choose to drive. It’s about never giving others that power over you."

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