Smart launches first TV ads in U.S., suggests we unbig with the uncar

Tonight, the Smart Fortwo will finally hit primetime. The tiny city car came to the U.S. market in 2008, but it was never advertised on TV. Early on, the car didn't need any help to move units: for the first year-and-a-half on the market, an average of 1,916 Fortwos were sold per month. After that, well...

To counter declining sales, Mercedes-Benz USA took over sales and marketing for the brand from the Penske Automotive Group this past July 1. This change lead the team to decide that TV advertising needed to happen, Smart general manager Tracey Matura told AutoblogGreen today.

The first spot, called "Unbig" is being broadcast on a bunch of shows, including Dancing with the Stars, Jimmy Kimmel Live (which will actually be one of the show's live ads), NCIS, Grey's Anatomy, Whitney and Fringe, but you can watch it right now after the jump. It drives home a very simple point: when everyone is talking big, the Smart Fortwo is small. Matura said the message is for people to rethink what they need from transportation. "It's not about large being bad, it's about big not always being necessary," she said. "The Smart is the right car from its inception to delivery in your driveway."

Part of the low sales problem, Matura said, is that many Americans have absolutely no concept what the Smart car even is. According to something called an avoider study from J.D. Power, 50 percent of people surveyed were completely unaware of the Smart brand, while an average number for an automotive brand is around 18 percent. The quickest way to bring that up, she said, is thorugh traditional television advertisements.

There are three different versions of "Unbig," each highlighting either the overall brand, the MSRP or lease terms at the end of the spot. The all-electric Fortwo is not in the commercial, and it also won't be in the second ad, which is coming in mid-October.

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