ARGs are mainly aimed at the gaming community; they only work with people who have the addictive gene to want to play. So naturally the safe option is people that enjoy that eye ball satisfying, thumb numbing past time.
When you see this you will agree I am sure, that it is more than the obvious, it integrates the backend data capture that brands need and love, it involves its audience over an elongated period of time that will not only tip the word of mouth of the idea, but of Mini too. It aims play a goal and inspires competition, which of course makes you want to play more.
Everyone loves something for nothing, but what if something was the prize for a game, an experience, a memory.
I am glad to see there are still brands that just give people opportunities. None of the crappy, point of purchase, make you feel like you are being couched down a path, just simplistic branded association that makes you take away a positive connection with the company in question.
More and more brands are starting to jump on existing content to use its connection with an audience to portray or communicate there message... Valid some may seem, others bastardise historical creative genuis in the name of corporate profits. There is no great solution, and I would always hope the designers/owners of a show would not just sell out for the numbers but think in more depth about the connection and what it says for them, as much as what it says for the brand attaching themselves to it...
This is also an interesting, for creative direction as content is there already and potentially restrictive. The key for me when brands make these connections in an engaging way is to look as much to a new idea with an existing box as possible and not just re-purpose in a lazy manner...
If you get a chance, have a look at the Specsavers MSN take over, its live now and I think, its a good weight between engagement and connection between the existing charactisation and the brand that is on the band wagon. (Use IE for this).