Mercedes-Benz re-introducing Smart to U.S. because people are "not aware of the brand"

Hey Smart, where have you been? Oh, you've been here all along? Sorry, we didn't notice.

As promised, in the face of weak sales, Smart USA will launch a massive TV, print and digital marketing campaign by year's end to try and re-start the struggling microcar company that Mercedes-Benz took over from Penske back in February.

Tracey Matura, general manager of Smart USA, says. "People are not avoiding the brand or the product, but there is a great majority of people who are not aware of the brand." M-B says the TV and print ads will be a first for Smart here in the States. Matura says, "We will do things the same way as we do on the Mercedes-Benz side – that is the benefit of having an organization like Mercedes-Benz USA behind you." That sounds good, but optimism in the face of poor sales is sort of a Smart tradition at this point.

Mercedes-Benz is also offering special lease and finance deals for Smart vehicles through its captive finance arm. Lease pricing for the Smart Fortwo starts at $179 a month for 24 months and finance deals like 1.9 percent interest for up to 60 months were announced in mid-July.

Meanwhile, Jay Agresta, president of one of the Smart dealers in the U.S. says, "What we need now is the marketing muscle of Mercedes-Benz." Is it really just that M-B's muscle is all that Smart needs to get back on track – or is it something more serious, like the Fortwo's flaws, that have led to tumbling sales?

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