After two days reserved for members of the media, the Auto Shanghai 2023 opened its doors to the public. It took merely a few hours for the first controversy to flood Weibo as people rushed to criticize MINI for how it handled the ice cream giveaway at its booth. Automotive News Europe reports “BMW MINI” shortly became the most-searched term on the Chinese social media network, with users posting negative comments about the promotion.

So, what exactly happened? Some of the people who attended the Auto Shanghai 2023 during its inaugural public day criticized MINI for apparently prioritizing foreign visitors over domestic attendees of the show while handing out free ice cream. ANE cites a person familiar with the matter saying MINI hired temporary workers specifically for the event.

MINI has already issued an official statement on Weibo, apologizing for the mishap:

“MINI launched the ‘Shanghai Auto Show Live Gift’ campaign with the intention of sending a sweet gift to friends of all sizes who visited the show. Due to the lack of internal management and negligence of our staff, we caused unhappiness. We sincerely apologize for this!

We will review ourselves and improve management, strengthen internal training, and strive to provide good service and experience for each friend. Once again, we sincerely apologize to all of you!”

It’s worth noting China is BMW’s biggest single market and MINI will soon kick off production of the next-generation electric three-door hatchback, with the Aceman to follow in 2024. These two EVs are part of Spotlight Automotive, a 50:50 joint venture between the BMW Group and Great Wall Motors. The core brand BMW makes several China-specific models, including the long-wheelbase X1/iX1 making its debut at the show where it’s joined by the i3 Sedan sold only in the People’s Republic.

Source: MINI / Weibo via Automotive News Europe