All three agencies competing for the account had worked with Mercedes-Benz Canada before. BBDO Toronto has been the AOR for above-the-line work for Mercedes-Benz Canada since early 2008, but has never worked on the Smart cars. Mercedes chose BBDO based on the agency’s strong understanding of the Smart brand and its vision for the brand’s future.
“It is a very distinctive brand that has had a good sales run in Canada, and has hit the point where it now needs innovative marketing to take it to the next level,” said Paul Reilly, SVP, managing director of BBDO Toronto, who is overseeing the account. “It needs through-the-line marketing, which would include mass and direct and digital and events, and that’s the breadth of service we can provide as a one-stop shop.
BBDO’s work for the super-efficient smart cars will include direct, mass, digital and events, all touting the cars’ city-friendly design. A majority of the marketing for Smart will take place online, and multiple direct and digital efforts will be aimed at both acquisition and retention. Print and out-of-home ads will debut in just a few weeks, coinciding with the release of the newest Smart model, BRABUS.
“The Smart brand has had a relatively smooth and easy introduction into Canada, in that it has been able to sell every car it could import with minimal marketing efforts,” Reilly noted. “You could say that the initial couple of years of sale were almost presold by the global publicity around this amazing product, so now we have to look at the brand and make it stand for something very distinctive in Canada and something where we control what we put out, vs. having people take it their own way. We also want to clarify the positioning of smart as the ultimate city vehicle.”
Reilly added that the target audience for Smart is “the person who loves to live downtown.”
Steve Groh, VP, account director and Rebecca Flaman, account supervisor will manage day-to-day work on the account. Ian MacKeller, EVP, creative director, is responsible for Smart creative. BBDO may tap a separate agency to execute small events, but so far all Smart work is in-house.