A TV advertising campaign for the Smart brand will be launched next week by Mercedes-Benz USA. This is the first such campaign for Smart ever since 2007, which is when it arrived in the U.S. Mercedes executives didn’t want to give away the creative message of these TV spots but they admitted that this campaign is supported by loan and lease deals from Mercedes-Benz’s captive finance arm.
Smart’s distribution, sales and marketing in the U.S. had been previously managed by Penske Automotive Group Inc. According to Steve Cannon, Mercedes’ vice president of marketing, there will be changes.
He said that in the next 18 months, a “distinct Smart environment” will be created. However, the cost structure will remain low. Cannon explained that it’s likely that the marketing budget would be regional in scope. The brand will remain in big city markets where the minicars are useful. Cannon said that the company won’t attempt to “re-educate Middle America.”
He said that Smart will be seen in Mercedes showrooms but it will be as a stand-alone brand and won’t be promoted as ‘Smart, by Mercedes-Benz’.
These commercials will mark the link between Smart and Mercedes. Smart is owned by Mercedes’ parent Daimler AG. When Penske distributed and offered the brand, 75 dealers had Smart franchises.
The July 1 agreement to transfer distribution, sales and marketing to Mercedes-Benz USA had Penske taking back franchises from 22 non-Mercedes-Benz dealers. Subsequently, Mercedes-Benz USA added 30 Mercedes dealers to display the Smart brand in showrooms, comparable to the arrangement between Toyota dealers and Scion.