Profile: Jim Poh

Feb 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Jim Poh is VP, director of creative content distribution, at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, running BMW’s Mini. He manages the remarkably lean team of four in-house media planners at CPB on the brand with America’s sexiest media strategy.
With a relatively paltry $40 million budget, CPB made an early decision to stay off television and use the Internet, cinema, every conceivable form of out-of-home and a clever public relations campaign to launch the car.
The Mini’s 2002 sales target was a relatively modest 20,000 units, but this was to be achieved in the face of an American love affair with the SUV so strong that BMW considered not launching here.
The strategic objective was to make the Mini an icon. The media plan was as instrumental as the creative execution in developing the car’s “personality.”
A majority of the media spend went toward out-of-home, from cheeky “talking point” billboards in central locations to stunts: cars stationed like spectators in sports stadiums throughout the country and Minis piggybacking SUVs and driving through city streets.
Print coups included a Playboy centerfold, cartoons in The New Yorker, orange staples in Rolling Stone and “corners well” placements in Blender. Formerly hesitant media owners are now approaching CPB.
A large part of the production cost went to films destined originally only for the Internet. They proved so popular that they began airing in movie theaters, and recently even on selected television.
Mr. Poh says such an eclectic campaign is only possible because media planners are in-house at CPB, and because it is “absolutely not the way we work to say this is what the media planner does, this is what the creative does.”
“Our planning group comes up with general consumer targets. We tell the creatives and then they come asking constantly, `Do you think we could get this?”’ That’s how Mr. Poh recently negotiated the much-publicized front-page story series involving Minis and the “half-alien” Bat Boy in the supermarket tabloid Weekly World News.
“I grew up working on Quaker Oats and P&G-type accounts. I am very anxious not to be wacky for wacky’s sake,” Mr. Poh says. “We take the money P&G would put into frequency and put it into surprise and noticeability.”
Has it worked? BMW recently announced that Mini sold 24,000 units here last year and will do even better in 2003. Mr. Poh will be busy.