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Mini breaks with BSSP, launches new agency review

Creativity | 3 months ago


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BSSP (formerly Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners) has terminated its contract with Mini, effectively resigning the account it led for more than a decade.

An unusual policy within the procurement department of the client’s parent company, BMW in Germany, requires Mini to launch agency reviews every four years. BSSP negotiated to extend that to six years, but the policy, along with a series of cost-cutting and consolidation moves on the client side, led to what BSSP chief creative officer John Butler called “a difficult decision.”

In short, the agency initiated the termination clause in its contract rather than participate in another review.

“Over the years, we have created great work with the talented team at Mini,” Butler said. “It’s unusual to have such an extended relationship with a client. We appreciate that opportunity.”

BSSP started working for the brand in 2005 after winning a U.S. agency of record review. It subsequently survived four CMOs, three heads of the Mini division and a second 2012 review that saw the shop assume global agency of record duties for the brand.

Mini later implemented a series of cost-cutting measures that strained the relationship. It consolidated the media buying portion of its business, which had initially been at BSSP, with BMW’s agency UM and centralized more of the core brand creative work with teams based in Germany.

“I’d never heard of mandated reviews before,” said chief executive officer Greg Stern, adding that industry standards hold that “if the agency-client relationship is working, you maintain it.”

Stern did, however, call BSSP’s 11-year relationship with Mini “very strong.” He said the work itself has served as “a great calling card” and a key factor in recruitment and new business efforts. “I think [the experience] will make us a stronger agency in terms of financial management,” he added, citing recent account wins like PowerBar and Nature Made.

During BSSP’s tenure, Mini expanded from a “niche” brand with only two models to a five-model roster. Prominent creative projects include 2016’s “Defy Labels” Super Bowl campaign starring Serena Williams and other Olympic athletes as well as a series of personalized billboards that made headlines in 2007.

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