Business

Mini’s massive storm

Hired to promote the Mini Cooper Roadster, an ad firm bought naming rights to a cold snap before it wreaked havoc
People walk past a vehicle covered in snow and ice in Bucharest, February 5, 2012. Bitterly cold weather sweeping across Europe claimed more victims on Sunday and brought widespread disruption to transport services, with warnings that the chilling temperatures would remain into next week. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti (ROMANIA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Mini’s massive storm
Radu Sigheti/Reuters

As of last week, a cold snap across Eastern Europe was responsible for at least 175 deaths. For BMW, the parent company of Mini Cooper, the bad weather had an unfortunate association. Hired to promote the Mini Cooper Roadster, an ad firm bought naming rights to the cold front before it wreaked havoc—and named it “Cooper,” after the car. (The ad agency and BMW have since apologized.) The Free University of Berlin’s meteorological institute sells naming rights to high- and low-pressure systems in Central Europe, which the ad firm must have hoped would raise awareness of the Cooper brand. “People take the same risk when they associate themselves with a cause or a sports team, or use a celebrity endorser,” says Kenneth Wong, a marketing professor at Queen’s School of Business. The problem is that the weather is more unpredictable than, say, Tiger Woods—and a bigger danger to others.