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5 Questions: smart USA on Making Customer Education Fun

Posted by Dale Buss on March 2, 2015 12:29 PM

While smart’s two-seater cars certainly stand out in the market, the Mercedes-Benz-owned brand is facing tough challenges in the US. Lower gasoline prices, which curb demand for its gasoline-powered models, and lackluster enthusiasm for mainstream electric cars, its other offering, means the automaker has its work cut out for it.

But its sales and marketing executives see big things ahead for the tiny gas and electric smart cars. In one promising sign, US sales rose last year by nearly 13 percent over 2013, to more than 10,400 units, even while smart has been phasing out the current version of its ForTwo model (the four-seater ForFour isn't available in the US).

While most consumers and dealers simply refer to the model as "the smart" and the brand doesn't bother much with the ForTwo moniker, smart is priming interest in the launch of its improved models this year with a little branded humor.Continue reading...


Smart's Unmarketing: Is "Unclutter" Enough to Capture US Consumers?

Posted by Dale Buss on October 18, 2011 04:02 PM

Well, 59 cars are better than none. That was the net gain in sales for Smart USA's ForTwo model in September, when it released its first national US TV commercial, over September 2010. That's right, Smart sold just 469 vehicles in the United States last month, about on par with its monthly sales total for all of the first half of the year, and hardly better than a year ago.

But give Smart credit. Mercedes-Benz just took over U.S.-market administration of its brand over the summer from Penske, and installed a new marketing team, and really has only taken the first halting steps toward building brand awareness for Smart, with that initial TV spot, called "Unbig. Uncar," above.Continue reading...


Smart's Unbig Idea a Small Step for Brand's US Awareness

Posted by Dale Buss on September 23, 2011 10:59 AM

"Unbig. Uncar." That's it? The slogan at the end of the the first-ever national TV spot in the US for the Smart auto brand is a little underwhelming — pardon the pun. The whole point of the ad seems to be that Smart is, well, different — that there's virtue in simply being small while everyone else emphasizes how great it is to be big.

Even so, this is no VW "Think Small." The proposition comes off rather unconvincingly, sort of like those Nissan Leaf commercials that lionize electric vehicles for the simple and unadorned reason that it would be awful if everything in the world ran on gasoline — although at least Leaf hired a winsome polar bear.

Yet the effectiveness of the campaign per se isn't of utmost concern to the brand, which is owned by Daimler AG. Awareness is the whole point of this commercial and another that is to follow it next month. Finally, Smart USA branders hope, Americans will be able to put into a larger and more familiar context those funny-looking, stylish little runabouts they see here and there on our streets and roads.Continue reading...


Daimler Revs Up Smart Brand in Hong Kong, Frankfurt and US

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 19, 2011 12:01 PM

The smog was so bad in Hong Kong last month that “people with heart or respiratory illnesses (were) advised to reduce physical and outdoor activities,” according to Radio Television Hong Kong. 

Daimler AG is looking to help ease matters by bringing a trial version of its Smart electric car (which won't be produced until next year) to the city, according to Bloomberg. The German car manufacturer has partnered with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong, and four other HK-based organizations to provide two-seater Smart cars in a trial that will last six to 12 months, as part of a bigger four-year trial for the EV.

There are currently 300 charging stations for the 170 electric vehicles in Hong Kong, but the plan is to increase the number of stations to 1,000 in the next year. Nissan and Mitsubishi are also pushing “to introduce electric vehicles in Hong Kong,” Bloomberg reports, “where pollution reached ‘very high’ levels on a record one in four days in 2010.”Continue reading...

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