smart just launched last week a new ad campaign for the US Market. Indeed, according to The Detroit News, Mercedes, the well known German constructor is supposed to help smart through this campaign to enter efficiently the US Market. Since it’s launch in 2006 smart did not reach the American automobile landscape. WIth less than 6,000 cars sold last year the Brand needed to find a solution.
I am a smart addict, I worked for Smart during the Paris Motor Show, I owned a smart in France, I love smart and I could write all the amazing feature that the product offers but further than the product smart is a Brand, one of the best in my opinion. And I believe that the new ad is the WORTH one that Smart could ever found. This ad take a bet against quite every branding and advertising principles:
- Target the audience: The ad does not target a specific audience. It’s obvious that Smart does not fit the needs of the Wisconsin inhabitants who benefit from great spaces but this Brand perfectly fit the needs of young urban professionals who need a car in bigs cities like Boston, New York, Chicago etc.
- Although the Brand needs to identify its problem, it should not advertise on it. Do not apologize for the product you are advertising!
- Getting Attention: The ad certainly get the attention of the viewer with all the “big, big big”. However the purpose of this point it that the audience would recall the Brand and remember it. Sure it’s what smart intended by launching this campaign: to raise the American’s awareness for the Brand. But I am not sure that American would remember the Brand as an option for their next Car purchase.
- Information: smart is such a great car, why don’t they advertise about it? All the security features, all the inside space, all the customization (color, motor, music, seats, etc.) Even the element that they point out seems to be bad! Having a small car seems to have an “uncar” instead of expressing how smart it is to be able to park everywhere! The ad does not mention any key benefit of having a smart!
- Building a relationship between the product and the audience: if this ad create any kind of relationship it sure is a disregarding relationship.The Brand should build a emotional connection between the customer and the Brand.
- The ad should reflect the core values of the Brand, the heritage and prestige, the dream statut of the customers, the way the brand is different from the others. When you drive a smart you are not any driver stuck in the traffic, you are original, modern, eco-friendly, unique, confident.
So, yes the ad is original and provocative but it misses the aim of an ad. We don’t do ad for the sake of Arts (well, sometime but not for a brand that is failing and that we need to save). We do Ad to deliver a message to our audience to give them the solution to their needs. According to Leo Burnett Criteria for identifying creative excellence one of the main point is to avoid being destructive for the Brand!
Here are some recommendations:
- Advertise for the urban audience, sell a lifestyle with young dynamic people with colorful cars in a fancy daily life with shopping bags, tiny parking spot in front of nice restaurant, escaping out of town with 2 bikes behind the car (yes you can have a bicycle rack on a smart)… Make people Dream!
- Launch Special Editions like few Years ago the Toile H with the outstanding partner: Hermes! Featuring Colorful quality leather inside.
- Create a buzz by endorsing some celebrities such as basketball players or football player to implicitly show how the Smart is spacious, trendy etc. Maybe show a Red Sox Star parking his car in a tiny sport near the Fenway, grabing his huge bag and bat from the truck. With a slogan like “don’t be late for the game”.
Those are some visuals that people will remember and enjoy. They will think: “I want to be like them! I want a smart!”