Since then, its manufacturer, DaimlerChrysler, has launched roadster and coupe versions. But this September sees the launch of its real big brother - the forfour, a four-seater car that targets a more mainstream audience.
The car's launch is backed by advertising, created by Farm Communications, that broke on television on 19 July, with media planning and buying being handled by BJK&E.
The endline sums up the campaign: "Open your mind." This is an expression of smart's attempt to move into a mainstream market that may have pre-conceived ideas about smart.
The target market for the car is broad - anybody aged 25-plus with a household income above £20,000 and with attitudes that fit in with the smart positioning. This gives DaimlerChrysler 5.3 million potential customers for the forfour.
Katy Driver, the group head at BJK&E, says: "The car is not aimed at a tightly defined audience, so we've used a very eclectic mix of media."
The media strategy is based around a concept created by smart of "transfourmation" and is intended to achieve a transformation of the smart brand and of what people expect from a four-seater car. BJK&E hoped to develop a strategy that conveyed the idea that forfour is non-conformist, fun and flexible.
Sam Bridges, the head of marketing for smart, UK and Ireland, calls an integrated planning meeting each month that puts all its agencies in one room to ensure the big brand idea works across all media and disciplines from television, to direct marketing to outdoor.
Farm's television executions comprise a 40-second ad, "kaleidoscope", that shows parts of the car through a kaleidoscope. This is backed by three 20-second spots. All the commercials will run on terrestrial and selected satellite channels. An interactive version of the ad will run on Sky and Flextech channels.
Outdoor, bought through Portland, will run nationally on 48-sheet sites.
BJK&E claims that the campaign features the first use of "night and day" creative, which changes according to the time of day, in such a large format.
Smart will also run lenticular posters in cinemas to bring the brand alive and has created three postcard formats, including one that opens out into a poster.
Press activity includes heavy use of magazines and experiments with different formats such as acetate overlays, lenticular and 3D printing. Ads will run in magazines including OK!, Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Parenting, a reflection of the diverse nature of the target audience. National press activity will involve use of all broadsheets and The Sun.
Online work, developed by Syzygy, will also experiment with format by using website "hi-jacks" and overlays across content on 40 sites, while Rapier has created direct marketing that will translate the "open your mind" idea into direct mail.
Driver concludes: "It's not the largest budget in the world so everything was done to create as much impact as possible."
"Transfourmation" is an ambitious media strategy that takes the "open your mind" campaign idea to a mass audience while using unusual formats in a bid to create this impact. DaimlerChrysler will soon know if this approach has translated into sales.
Client: DaimlerChrysler (smart)
Media: TV, outdoor, press, online, direct marketing
Agencies: Farm Communications, BJK&E, Rapier, Portland Outdoor, Syzygy
Media idea: Create standout above the clutter of rival car advertising.
Create media firsts