Shifting Gears, Smart Makes the Biggest City Car Ever

A dumb idea, brilliantly presented

German compact-car maker Smart is so smart, it’s playing dumb. And that, as it turns out, makes for some pretty entertaining marketing. A new campaign from BBDO Berlin rests on the premise that it’s time for the brand—known for small, fuel-efficient, city-friendly two-seaters—to get into the big car game. The really, really big car game. Not so different from the cab of a tractor trailer, or maybe a Sherman tank. Definitely a ride Andre the Giant might actually find comfortable.


One of two deadpan spots features Smart executives talking about the giant new vehicle. It’s blisteringly well written, dripping with snark in all the right places. The second video features a Smart rep doing hidden-camera-style interviews (never entirely convincing) with consumers, who, after seeing a video introducing “the prototype” and handling an enormous to-scale wheel, offer reactions ranging from surprisingly agreeable to entirely incredulous.

In a sense, it could seem too much to ask of viewers that they track the sarcasm as a critique of real, oversize gas guzzlers, and follow through to the point that Smart’s cars are the opposite. On the other hand, it’s a message much of the brand’s target will probably already find sympathetic. And sanctimonious as it may be, it’s grounded enough in practicality and pop consciousness to serve its purpose as a sales pitch. (But it is hard, at times like these, not to think of South Park’s take on hybrid cars).

Worst of all, though, the big car probably wouldn’t be very good as a Pong controller.


Client: Smart

by Gabriel Beltrone