Mini names lethal weather front 'Cooper' in PR gaffe

A narrow-gauge railway makes its way through a snow covered forest at the Harz national park near Schierke, central Germany Snow and ice have made many forms of travel in Germany a challenge in recent days

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An advertising agency for BMW has paid to name a cold weather front sweeping Europe "Cooper" in Germany, after the carmaker's Mini Cooper.

But the public-relations stunt by the agency went wrong after the freezing conditions led to dozens of deaths.

Germany's meteorology institute allows the sponsorship of weather systems.

On its website, advertising agency Sassenbach says that naming the front after the open-air vehicle was a "wind- and weather-proof idea".

It is encouraging people to follow the path of the weather on meteorological websites.

While the snow and ice have brought some stunning scenes across Europe, the freezing temperatures have led to at least 100 deaths, mainly in Poland and Ukraine.

In Ukraine alone, nearly 950 people are being treated in hospital with hypothermia and frostbite, the Associated Press news agency reports.

The Munich-based advertising agency said it was no longer commenting on the unfortunate correlation between the progress of the severe weather and the car it sought to publicise.

It has also named a warmer weather front to follow "Minnie".

BMW has apologised for the stunt, which cost the advertising firm 229 euros (£190).

In a statement, the carmaker said it could not influence exactly when names for weather fronts would be used, or what a weather system would do.

It said it deeply regretted that the weather front had taken on "catastrophic proportions" and claimed so many lives.

The meteorological institute's "Adopt a Vortex" scheme has been running since 2002, with the money raised helping to fund weather monitoring at Berlin's Free University.

The institute is the only one outside the US which names weather systems.

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