Mini bows ‘talking’ billboards down south

Actually, playful messages - such as 'Nice roof graphic, Bob!' - will not be voiced, but spelled out in lights as Mini drivers who've signed up for the innovative Motorby pilot program drive by. But the initiative now underway in four US cities makes Mini the first major marketer to morph RFID technology into one-to-one communication with customers.

The relationship between Mini USA and the drivers of its boxy cars just got closer than those enjoyed by any other auto brand. Starting earlier this month, the Woodcliff Lake, NJ-HQ’d company began inviting Mini drivers to register in its Motorby program. Those who do so will receive personalized greetings whenever they drive by certain billboards in and near New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami.

Enabled by Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, Mini’s ‘motorboards’ are activated by electronic key-ring fobs customers receive after signing up and disclosing such personal information as nicknames for their cars, how they feel about their vehicles, and descriptions of their driving styles. The end result is the triggering of a rotating array of playful and personalized unexpected messages whenever these Mini drivers pass the motorboards. For example – thanks to creative from NYC-based Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners – people who say they believe other drivers envy the Mini’s diminutive style will activate the quip: ‘Actually, size does matter.’

Alas, Mini Canada tells MiC there are no plans to launch talking billboards north of the border.