Americans have had a stormy relationship with small cars, and the UK's Mini was hardly a runaway hit when it was introduced in the U.S. in the `60s. So when BMW bought the brand in 2000 and announced that it would relaunch the car in the United States (and rename it the upper-case "MINI"), it definitely didn't look like a sure-thing hit to auto enthusiasts.
The MINI has zoomed past expectations, racking up a million sales in its first six years. "They did a really smart launch, playing off of the nostalgia for the brand and targeting young urban professionals," said Hall. "They worked really hard to create viral awareness."