I was driving to work a couple of days ago, and as a MINI passed me from the opposite direction, the owner stuck his hand out the window, making the victory sign at me. I smiled, and responded by raising my hand. This sort of thing has happened countless times since I bought my MINI.
Why do MINI owners do this? Because it’s in the MINI literature. The pamphlets that come with our cars will tell you just how to salute other MINI owners. The victory sign was one of the recommended gestures.
MINI’s marketing stood out from the start. It was different, it was likable, and it was fun. The salutes were one of the things that really stood out. After all, saluting other MINI owners is a nice and friendly thing to do, and on some level, it makes one feel like they’re part of a club that’s not open to everyone — which, incidentally, is another notion taught in the MINI literature and reinforced on the MINI website, where the owner section is called the Owner Lounge.
Let’s face it though, the club isn’t that exclusive. You can get in if you have the money to buy a MINI. And this club’s membership is growing. In 2003, when I bought my MINI, there weren’t that many on the roads. Now, five years later, I see a lot more, particularly in the DC area, where I currently live. If you want to talk about an exclusive car club, take the classic MINI owners. You can’t make those cars any more, and there are very few of them here in the States.
Since there are only going to be more MINI cars on the roads, it begs the question: at what point do you stop waving at other MINI owners? I’m not asking this because it bothers me to wave back, or even to start a salute; I enjoy doing it. It’s the nice and sociable thing to do. It puts a smile on my face, and that’s always a good thing.
But I see plenty of other MINI owners that aren’t interested in it. I look at them as I pass by, hoping for some sort of little wave (after all, I’ve gotten used to this clever bit of marketing), and I see nothing. Then I wonder, did they read the pamphlets? Don’t they agree with the marketing? What could make them so uninterested in being nice to other people? How could they be glum while they’re driving a MINI?
Then I catch myself, and I chuckle. Because let’s face it, it’s the marketing that makes me think and do those things. It’s powerful stuff, because it appeals to the basic human need for company, for social interaction. It’s good stuff.