Smart Fortwo Promotes One, Simple Idea: City Parking Made Easy

In America, we tend to associate small cars with eco-friendliness—and that’s about it. Smart Automobile, an automotive branch of Daimler AG headquartered in Böblingen, Germany, wanted to send a different message to European audiences. In most major European cities, parking is a huge problem. The Smart Fortwo, a rear-engined two-seater city car, was designed to combat that problem.

The company along with its agency BBDO out of Berlin, Germany, created innovative spots, both for television and online, that highlight one feature: the car’s ability to fit into tight city parking spaces. The TV spot was largely successful in the advertising world—it won gold in both Film and Film Craft at the Cannes Lions this year. The online video followed a contest to find the parKING of Berlin. The competition was so successful, other dealers across Europe will host their own events as well.

Smart and BBDO put a twist on typical automobile advertisements; instead of showing off all of the Smart Fortwo’s features, almost the entire commercial focuses on how awful it is at off-roading. Toward the end, the tagline appears: “As good off road as an offroader in the city.” Here, it cuts to a clip of a larger vehicle giving up on a smaller city parking spot and the Smart Fortwo easily pulling in.

The humorous, creative concept is somewhat out of the norm. Advertisers often avoid any downfalls their product might have. Smart and BBDO flaunt them. The Smart Fortwo has a very specific purpose, and it’s obviously not off-roading. The company is confident in the car’s selling point: making city parking easy.

In order to augment their message, Smart and BBDO filmed a contest where several teams test drove Smart Fortwos in a game of city musical chairs. Through an app, the teams continued to drive around Berlin while music played. When the music stopped, they all had to find a parking spot and document it with a picture. The last team to park was out. One by one, teams were eliminated until the parKINGs were crowned.

Focusing marketing efforts on a single product attribute is a great branding strategy. People will associate your brand with the feature and retain the information. Don’t be afraid to make fun of your product, especially if it excels in other areas. Also, contests are an excellent way to interact with consumers and receive real-time feedback. Apparently, both of these concepts make for epic advertising material so, if you can, try implementing them into your own marketing strategy.

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