“Hellloooo, New York! Are you ready to rock and roll and buy a Mini?” Those were not the exact words exclaimed by wild-wigged, long-tongued, grease-painted Gene Simmons, bass player and general spokesman of the rock band, KISS, but that was the real message behind Mini’s big press splurge at the 2011 New York auto show.
Three-quarters of the band (sadly, singer/guitarist Paul Stanley had a family emergency that prevented him from appearing) braved the daylight of a Manhattan morning to take over the Mini stand in full regalia, with KISS songs rocking in the background.
There was a full quartet of special Mini Countryman models, though, each one with a special paint job to resemble a member of the band: the Demon, the Star Child and, um, the other two… one looks like a cat.
This might all seem faintly ludicrous if it weren’t for the good intentions behind it. These four special cars will be autographed by the whole band and then auctioned on eBay – starting May 29 and lasting for 10 days – with the proceeds going to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. “Our hearts go out to the people of Japan in this time of great tragedy,” said Simmons. “We wanted to help and also provide a way for the KISS Army to get involved. UNICEF raises money to help children who are still coping with the effects of these disasters and also supports other very important emergency relief efforts around the world.”
“Mini and its owners have long been dedicated to contributing to philanthropic and charitable efforts,” said Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA. “As we kick off the Mini ‘Rocks the Rivals’ tour in the United States, these fundraising initiatives were an ideal way for us to incorporate a fun charitable component to the campaign with these original pieces of art.”
‘Mini Rocks the Rivals’ is a nationwide tour of test drive events that pits the Mini Countryman – the company’s latest creation, a compact crossover vehicle – against three of its nearest rivals, the Nissan Juke, Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V. It takes place from the middle of April until early June and will have a classic rock theme, with plenty of KISS tracks and artwork from the band’s recordings.
For any Mini-driving members of the KISS Army who might like to get their own vehicle KISS-ified (not necessarily a Countryman), special wraps are available, with proceeds again going to UNICEF.
COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.