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MINI Nails It with Hammer and Coop

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One part Knight Rider. One part Def Leopard music video. One part car commercial. Edit in some gratuitous car chases and buxom retro chicks, upload to YouTube and you’ve got the recent MINI ad campaign.

MINI, maker of the retro Cooper S, approached viral advertising with no pretensions and a high production value to yield an entertaining bit of fluff. Inspired by the car culture of ’70s and ’80s exploitation films, company’s “Hammer and Coop” ad campaign took advantage of a longer-form medium to showcase a large number of technical improvements in the 2007 Mini Cooper across a six webisode arc.

The campaign, designed by ad agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, has officially wrapped, as the last of the webisodes went live last week. Hype surrounding the viral spots included a number of new and old media outlets ranging from billboards and magazine fashion spreads to theatrical movie teasers and an interactive website to YouTube trailers and a virtual party with the titular Hammer and Coop in Second Life.

Following the form of parent company BMW’s very high profile “The Hire Film Series,” “Hammer and Coop” succeeds in making the product placement the entertainment in all the ways that and like-minded viral attempts have failed. Shorter in form than the BWM James Bond-redux films, “Hammer and Coop,” directed by “Starsky and Hutch” filmmaker Todd Phillips, revels in its own absurdity with the oft-delivered catchphrase “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”

The soundtrack is a thinly veiled revamping of every Def Leopard song you’ve heard with plenty of extra Shaft-style wacca-chickas thrown in. The campaign’s website offers a bit of fodder for the Mini-enthusiast and 18- to 34-year-old male procrastinator. The “Porn Action Name Generator” spits out Mickey Spillanesque handles, clearly the source of the names of the characters and “actors” (“Hammer” is played by “Jim Turtledove”).

With all of that said, the campaign fundamentally works as a short-form online series. It’s got girls, cars, and explosions. The campy dialog is never cringe-worthy and the savvy direction team sprinkles in enough high and low brow references that everyone gets something. Bottom line — watch the music video of Asia’s timeless “Heat of the Moment” for the highlights and then go NetFlix the original “Italian Job” to see the where these antics started.