TORONTO Mini marked a milestone Wednesday with a 50th birthday party and drive-in screening of the film The Italian Job at Polson Pier. Jason Huang of BMW Group Canada planned the event in conjunction with Mini's five Greater Toronto Area dealerships. “Fifty years is definitely something to celebrate. Not many carmakers can say they have 50 years of experience, so we wanted to generate excitement in our customer base,” said Huang. “People who own Minis really love their Mini.”
More than 500 vehicle owners (twice the number Huang said the company expected) paid $20 to register their Mini for the event, which benefited the Remix Project, a cultural program for at-risk youth. The party included a performance by break dancing troupe the Supernaturalz, a graffiti expo, a bingo game and scavenger hunt, and a screening of the 2003 version of The Italian Job, whose characters race around Venice and Los Angeles in Mini Coopers.
“We wanted a location that was central for all of the five retailers, somewhere that is accessible and would create a lot of excitement,” Huang said. Some of the dealerships hosted pre-parties for Mini drivers who then joined a Mini Marching Parade, creating five convoys that traveled to Polson Pier. “The car leading each pack is a special car developed by each retailer,” Huang said. “The five cars will be on display at the event.”
The Mini Downtown dealership dressed up a Mini Clubman with a retro surf theme—faux wood paneling and a beach scene painted across the hood. Mini Markham took its inspiration from the original Paul Smith Mini. The Durham dealership wrapped a Mini in flat black vinyl to create a car dubbed the Interceptor, which resembled a police vehicle. Mini Oakville covered its car with stamp-sized images of clients and their Minis, and artists Dara Gold and Jenny Heeju Oh designed colourful graphic images of Minis on a racetrack for the Vaughan West dealership's car.
Attendees had the opportunity to vote on their favourite car throughout the evening. Mini drivers—each of whom received a bag full of Hershey's products upon arrival—also had the chance to pose with a specially designed 50th birthday Mini. Although the event was not catered, guests could purchase food at a fund-raising barbecue on the grounds.
BMW Group Canada promoted the event through the Web site miniturns50.ca, which included video footage of birthday events held in cities around the world. The automobile manufacturer also created posters for each of the five Mini dealerships and reached out to customers through the company's database.