In an industry built on winning new accounts, the last thing ad agencies usually want to publicize is the business they have lost. But after 10 years with BMW's Mini brand, Canadian agency Taxi decided to get some goodwill on its way out the door by selling just one more car.
Earlier this month, the agency lost the Mini account to New York-based Anomaly, which just opened its Toronto office in April. It comes a decade after the company launched Mini in the Canadian market, where it has sold 40,000 units. For Taxi, the Mini business was one of the accounts that attracted the most awards.
Taxi wrote the tagline, "Thanks Mini. It's been a hell of a ride," and auctioned off the red compact that the agency owns. The URL taxi.ca/goodbyemini directed bidders to the sale on Internet auction site eBay.
With a starting price of $10,000 and 31 bids total, the auction closed this week with a final bid of $13,301. Taxi is donating proceeds to homeless shelter Covenant House.
The pitch process for the Mini account began in March. When BMW Group Canada put out a request for proposal on the account, Taxi opted not to take part, said chief creative officer Steve Mykolyn. Normally, he said, a review of the account would happen at BMW every three years, but this was the first time the Canadian account had gone through a procurement process.
"On principle we wanted our track record on the account to stand for itself," he said. "Although disappointing, we are parting ways on the best possible terms. ... We liked the idea of using this as an opportunity to not only thank Mini but to also support a great cause we believe in."
In a statement, Mini Canada director Adam Shaver said that Taxi "provided invaluable support over the years and played an important role in establishing the MINI brand in Canada."
Anomaly entered the Canadian market on the back of some high-profile work: the agency already handles Budweiser's advertising in Canada, and in February drew attention for a SuperBowl ad that in a relatively rare move, was crafted just for Canadian audiences. Anomaly sent a mob of "fans" to a rec hockey league game in Port Credit, Ont., filming the surprise and delight of the weekend warrior players who are not usually accustomed to packed stands and cheering crowds. It aired the result during the Canadian broadcast of the SuperBowl and on YouTube, attracting attention (and criticism from the actors' union.)
Budweiser was Anomaly's only Canadian account when the office opened two months later, and began working on the Mini pitch as it built its presence in Toronto. It became Mini's agency of record on July 1.
"The agency has a terrific vibe, and the creative ideas they brought forward demonstrated a true understanding of the MINI brand," Mini's Mr. Shaver said. "They've proven that they have the talent to bring unique, cheeky, attention-grabbing and MINI-typical campaigns to market as we look forward to further growth in the years to come."