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Memorable Mini ads over the decades


Ian Cushway profile Image

By Ian Cushway, 06th November 2020


Memorable Mini ads


Celebrating the classic Mini's myriad TV ad appearances over the decades


Original Morris Mini Minor Commercial (1959)

Credit: YouTube


Clever marketing, or lack of it, can determine the success or otherwise of a car – and some firms were better at creating memorable adverts than others. From the patriotic to frankly bizarre, Mini adverts from the past were, shall we say, just a little quirky. Nonetheless, they serve as a poignant reminder of how manufacturers differed in their approach when it came to promoting their products. Here's some of our YouTube favourites...



Australian Mini advert

Credit: YouTube


Early exposure
One of the first Mini ads we've seen dates from 1959 and has a rather drab male voiceover describing the revolutionary city car's many virtues. But there's a tantalising question mark over its intended market as the car's left-hand drive but on English plates. Judging by the telephone box, the setting is most certainly England, but the boot is referred to as the 'trunk'.

We can't help but notice the stark contrast between this ad and one dating from 1964/65, made for the more flamboyant Australian market. Amongst other things it features a pirouetting Mini on a skid pan, a judge who describes the Mini as being "able to park like a pram" and a bikini-clad passenger who obviously favours the Mini's new wind-up front windows over the old sliding affairs. In fact, you can almost hear Kenneth Williams' infamous 'ooh-er' as she brazenly states, "I like it going up and down."



Mini Advert - Oppo (1975)

Credit: YouTube


Going Dutch
Anyone remember the 1975 advert where rock band 'Oppo' land in a helicopter, jump into a red Mini and drive crazily around a deserted looking Amsterdam, being chased by fans on bikes? The song, 'Miracles (a Mini epic)' was released as a 7in single the following year. Oh, and for some reason the band are eating cream cakes while all this is going on with obvious consequences. On several bridges, seemingly all four wheels of the fast-moving Mini get off the ground which we imagine must have presented the producers with a bit of a challenge when filming. We can only assume it was a Sunday. The TV ad closes with an open air concert on a barge, complete with aforementioned Mini, gliding down a canal. You need to see it.



Cute Mini advert

Credit: YouTube


Flying the flag
Then there was the similarly bizarre ad featuring the madcap Spike Milligan, which first aired in 1978. So obviously inspired by VW’s famous ‘Drop’ TV advert for the Mk1 Golf, in between blowing his own trumpet, Milligan even affects a Japanese accent when talking about the Mini's economy – and the fact it's made it Britain. Given the burgeoning influx of imports from Japan and elsewhere there's a distinctly patriotic theme with the Union Jack figuring strongly throughout and the slightly tongue in cheek slogan "Don't just wave the flag, drive it!"



Minis Have Feelings Too (1986)

Credit: YouTube


Hear to heart
The cutesy ‘Minis have feelings too’ advert, devised by Rover Group chairman, Graham Day, showed two Minis kissing under a mistletoe bough. Designed to tug on the heart strings, it was meant to appeal to younger female Mini buyers predominantly. Aired at Christmas 1986 it also served as a reminder that, despite the launch of the Metro, the Mini was still very much alive. And it worked. Mini sales that January were 21 per cent up on the previous year.



1989 Twiggy 'Mini 30 LE' TV Advert (You Never Forget Your First Mini)

Credit: YouTube


Model behaviour
The appearance of Twiggy in a 1989 ad, featuring the very same green Mini used in the original '60s black and white ad in which she starred, was another memorable TV moment for Mini fans. It was made to promote sales of the 30th Anniversary special edition. Funnily enough Twiggy's first car was a Mini back in 1959 when she was just 17. It was purple with black tinted windows. She has since described the Mini as being 'quintessentially British' and the perfect car for London during the 1960s.



Mini Cooper Chase - The Italian Job (1969)

Credit: YouTube


Free ads
Of course, probably the biggest and best advert for the Mini, and one that came entirely free of charge, was its appearance in The Italian Job (1969). Indeed, the iconic movie effectively propelled the Mini into popular culture, which is rather ironic given that the factory didn’t want anything to do with it and refused to supply cars for free. Hardly surprising then that the majority of Minis used for filming were 'dressed-up' 850s, as opposed to genuine Coopers. A prudent financial decision in retrospect considering that 12 Minis were written off in one scene alone when the cars were thrown off the mountain.

Sadly, none of the six recognised hero's of the film survive, though three were raced back to the UK as soon as filming had finished. Having made it back to London, one of the drivers was stopped by the Police for speeding. The problem was, being merely a 'prop' the Mini was on false plates, with a fake tax disc and fake gold bars still in the boot! Of course the film had yet to be released, so you can imagine the red-faced driver's predicament and the explaining he had to do before finally being let off the hook!



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Credit: Moss Europe Ltd


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