BMW's MiniUSA drives consumers to its site

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British car company Mini, a division of BMW breaks into the U.S. market with a viral e-mail campaign designed by interactive agency Firstborn that has consumers reading its dust.

Visitors to the Web site design their own Mini, which drives across the screen and spells out a personalized message in its tire tracks. Visitors then e-mail these messages to friends.

"We wanted to get people to share the site with their friends, and then get them to actually visit the site," said Michael Ferdman, owner and president of Firstborn, New York. "As opposed to putting the message in the e-mail, in which they may go to the site, or they may not."

To make the message, the user can pick from four models of Minis and customize the color and design the hood of the car. The user then writes the text for the message to be drawn out in tire tracks in the message's link.

The recipient receives an e-mail that links them to the MiniUSA Web site at www.miniusa.com where the message can be read. The text of the message has been translated into the Mini mail format and is drawn by a moving Mini car.

Firstborn created the interactive design in conjunction with the San Francisco-based ad agency Butler, Shine and Stern.

"The goal was to create something that was very easy for users, so that they would stay at the site and not be deterred by a complicated process," said Dan LaCivita, executive producer at Firstborn.

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