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?