The Challenge

Mini was first launched in 1959 but has since been taken over by BMW a German company . Despite this the brand remains British and builds most of the cars in Oxford. The challenge for advertising agency Iris Worldwide was to how to leverage its British roots to reinforce the brand’s premium status in its most critical markets.

Semiotic Role

Creative Semiotics was briefed to review premiumness and Britishness codes across popular culture, film, advertising in Germany, the USA and China. A recurrent theme across the global work was the notion of Britishness as a collection of contradictions and paradoxes. The semiotics mapped brands and codes of Britishness onto class determined quadrants from Transgressive, Progressive, Proletarian and Patrician.


The semiotics became a key input into the overall development of the Mini brand. The work inspired Iris to create a global campaign based on the idea of tensions. Creative Semiotics was invited to present alongside Iris at 2015 Advertising Week London in a presentation entitled “Brits Abroad: The Art of Cultural Exchange”.