Media: Strategy Analysis - Digital screens drive smart car push

Brand: Smart

Client: Sam Bridger, smart UK & Ireland

Brief: "Smart car" was no longer - smart is a brand with three distinct


Target audience: 25- to 39-year-old super-youths

Budget pounds: 150,000


Media planning: Katy Driver, BJK&E

Media buying: Portland Outdoor

Creative: Farm Communications

STRATEGY The objective for the smart brand strategy was to communicate that "smart car", as everyone called the fortwo, was no longer: smart was now a brand with three distinct models - the fortwo, the forfour and the roadster.

To do this, BJK&E wanted to exploit the two powerful elements that underpin the brand personality across all three models: the look and feel of the range.

In terms of look, all three models are highly distinctive and share the same smart DNA - the Tridion safety cell, interchangeable colour panels, rear lights and tails and the interior styling.

In terms of feel, smart is not a brand for people who are content with the standard, average or conventional. Smart owners buy into the brand and see the cars as an extension of their personality.

There is not one socio-demographic audience for smart, rather a collection of like-minded people, which makes the traditional approach to targeting counter-productive.

The target audience is plugged in to urban living, whatever their age.

They enjoy going out and having fun, so BJK&E needed to find a platform that was in keeping with the smart brand and the characteristics of this audience.


- Outdoor: With the budget available and the mobile nature of the smart audience, BJK&E selected outdoor as the ideal medium. The explosion of digital-screen technology and the growth in distribution of this technology allowed the agency to engage with the "plugged ins" in a variety of lifestyle environments. Smart, a dynamic brand known for its innovation, chose to pioneer some of the most exciting formats available in the outdoor medium.

To take full advantage of the dynamism of the channel, bespoke creative was developed, thanks to a brave client and a creative agency, Farm Communications, which loved the idea. BJK&E chose touchpoints that reflected the lifestyle of the audience and that allowed smart to engage with them during different day-parts.

- Commuter hubs: Transvisions in the UK's largest rail stations offered high numbers of our urban audience in a key commuting environment.

- Style bars: These gave us our fashion-conscious, sociable, urban audience. This London-only campaign created a welcome distraction to those waiting to be served and reached the audience in a relaxed, receptive mindset.

- Hair salons: Smart took 500 screens next to mirrors in leading upmarket hair salons. This is a powerful emotive environment with a captive, focused audience. Salon staff were also provided with information on smart and handed out leaflets to those interested in finding out more.

- Health clubs: Using 45 health clubs on 180 screens across the UK allowed smart to engage with consumers in different day-parts and when they were literally plugged in.

- Malls: Smart also targeted the audience when they were out shopping. The screens in up-market shopping malls are located in open areas where people congregate.


The campaign reached an estimated six million people. It was the first time that a brand had created bespoke work for the digital-screen market and taken advantage of the full power of the screens.

Sam Bridger, the head of marketing for smart UK & Ireland, says: "The digital animation campaign used the latest in outdoor technology to fantastic advantage and helped set us apart from our competitors."

The campaign is now being rolled out across interactive television.

THE VERDICT - Sue Unerman director of strategic solutions, MediaCom

It was perfect timing for me when this campaign came up to be reviewed because, only last week, I was having a chat with a friend of mine who is looking around for a smaller second car because she feels her gas-guzzling big 4x4 is not doing much for the environment (she even feels frowned upon by her circle). So, very enthusiastically, I suggested she look at the smart car, explaining she now had the option of a family model.

However, after a bit of investigation into the options available and suitable for her, she informed me that as far as she's concerned, there is a "smarter" option, which gets her out of the Congestion Charge, as well as having a better fuel consumption than her current model.

This tells us three things. First, that smart motoring (ie. fuel-friendly) is definitely now on people's radar generally. Second, that it's competitive - there are now several options available to people who are considering it.

Third, that precisely because smart had such a clear urban "fortwo" positioning, it has a job on its hands to spread the word that it now has "three distinct models".

Well, would this strategy have got the smart car on my friend's shortlist?

She's certainly plugged in to urban living - she even enjoys going out and having fun. I'm a big believer, though, in sending messages out to consumers at the right moment and when they're in the right mood to receive them. While I take on board commuter hubs as the correct moment, I'm not sure that I get the significance of hairdressers or style bars as perfect cut-through moments for a product that requires significant investment and consideration. This strategy seems to be selling the brand as a style accessory. As such, it's a nice enough idea, but digital screens would not be the only solution on most style accessory schedules, nor does using all the outlets available of a new medium necessarily constitute smart planning.

There is clearly a great synergy between creative development and the digital medium - creating bespoke work shows an understanding the medium is not TV. It wasn't clear whether specific creative work had been tailored for each environment, which would have been quite innovative - big-hair ads for the hairdressers, perhaps, or "let's get physical" ads for the gyms.