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When the Smart car wanted to sell you a new model earlier this year, instead of talking about the usual advertising claims, like how great the car drives and how fuel efficient it is, Smart USA took a radically different approach. It came out with an idea of being against certain things. It asked you, the consumer, to think about what you were against in life, like excess stuff you buy but don't need, McMansions with four car garages and of course gas guzzlers. This is an unusual thing for a car company to do. It was not simply pushing polished cars in ads, it was saying something controversial. It was taking a stand against something. And it went beyond advertisements and set up a Facebook page. Why would advertising do this, why would the brand have this message?

Well, the Smart car, with the help of my agency StrawberryFrog in New York, was trying to spark a national movement against dumb mindless over-consumption. The thinking was: "Hey, if we could get millions of people excited about joining the fight against waste and dumb consumerism, it's a great way to get them excited about the Smart car."

This is part of a larger trend in advertising. To get people excited about a brand in this new social-media-Facebook-crazy world, you need to dump the old advertising playbook and spark a movement that people can get involved with. What do I mean by a movement? It is usually a big idea that people are thinking and talking about in life. As a brand, if you can capture that idea, crystallize it with emotion and rally loads of people around it, then you have the makings of the movement. You have to develop it and expand it in places and on platforms to interact with people. This is how you gradually build the movement in ways that appeal to more and more people in more and more ways.

We have seen movements before with brands like VW in the 1960s and more recently Apple, which has not just created ad messages but experiences. Apple has given their fans and fanatics a sense that they are a part of this revolutionary movement going on in the tech world, going against big brother and IBM, standing up for creativity in their messaging, a counter-culture movement. You can even say that the Apple store is a clubhouse for the Apple movement, a place you go to feel a part of the movement where you are cool, smart and unique, a cut above the rest, with abundant creativity.

Brands like Nike have developed movements for its own brand but also for cancer survivors under the Livestrong movement with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Nike was smart by getting involved in a big way but very unconventionally and low-key, without big ads, which gave the movement support and credibility and allowed it to take off and grow. The benefit for Nike was tremendous.

Why is the emphasis on a movement more important than ever? Because traditional ads are not as effective as they used to be. Products are very similar, no one believes that my stuff makes my teeth whiter than the other stuff. Movements are another way to communicate with you, the consumer.

There is always the risk of hype and phoniness in this new model of communication. Brands can attach themselves to movements that people are passionate about but not bring exciting ideas to the table. If they do not do it well, they hurt their brand. But if they get it right they can help people get things done. Just look at the Pepsi Refresh Project which gives grants for community initiatives. That is doing something that advertising cannot do which is having a truly positive impact on people's daily lives.

Why is this "movement" marketing trend happening? Advertisers need a new way to engage with people. People are savvy about ads. Some brands understand this and create wildly successful advertising by making fun of ads to get you to pay attention, like Geico. Movements, on the other hand, attempt to go beyond an ad. Is this a way of advertising to infiltrate your life? Absolutely. We Madmen and women are trying to find ways to do that.

The question is, are we a positive element or are we an negative element? Are we going to make you angry that we are in your face(book) and all we are doing is exploiting it, or are we contributing in some way, by adding new ideas, creating new discussions, that make you feel better and happier every time you and the brand get together? That is what we will have to be judged on. Since brands are going to be part of your life, the question is what are they going to add? Can they have fun with you, stir your inner soul and align with your passions?

Often these movements try to express a philosophy about the way you live your life, the choices you make, what you stand for, what you are against. For example, look at the recent Jim Beam "Bold Choice" movement. In the TV commercial, a young Willem Dafoe is shown at a crossroads, faced with a choice: to boldly leave his hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin, and head for the bright lights (and long odds) of an acting career in New York City, or stay put, and let fate decide his future.

As Dafoe reflects on his decision, the commercial explores the many futures that could have been: factory foreman, chess champion, aging punk, even sumo wrestler. But, as Dafoe notes in the ad, there is really only one choice. "All choices lead you somewhere," he states. "Bold choices take you where you're supposed to be."

It's all about belonging to a movement that stands for a bigger challenge, a passion for achieving as much as you can with your life, living to your potential and not taking the easy way out. Do you make bold choices or do you not make bold choices. And who wouldn't want to belong to that?

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That's a LOT of theory!

Guess time has delivered the verdict on the theory!

"you are all individuals!" [in unison] "we are all individuals" (ref Life of Brian)
 

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Someone needs to challenge Scott Goodson the founder of StrawberryFrog to quantify the success or failure of the smart movement "against dumb." Perhaps he can provide some insight into who they saw in their strategic vision as the target audience for the "against dumb" campaign?

I'm thinking that whatever smart paid StrawberryFrog was too much - juice was simply not worth the squeeze.

StrawberryFrog calls it a "Cultural Movement" but at the end of the day "against dumb" smelled like a BM . . .

StrawberryFrog sez:

Want to create a Cultural Movement?

Welcome to the world's first Cultural Movement agency. Once you have a Cultural Movement, you can do anything.

In the fragmenting media scene, StrawberryFrog is an innovative global agency that develops strategic vision and creative solutions that create growth for our clients.

StrawberryFrog | Your Friendly Neighborhood Global Advertising Agency
 

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The movement was started years ago and everyone has forgoten it's meaning. Originally I read some where it was a green car that had a smaller carbon foot print for one and smaller and more personal than a 1 ton SUV that requires 2 parking meters to fill a spot.
Sure you can buy cheaper cars and they may get almost the same miles per gallon, but would you be happy? I think not, if you didn't want the car you surely would not have bought it. I think the doubts raised by those who have not a clue what we enjoy or experience is starting to eat away at your belief. I have a supercharged Lotus in my garage and beside it is a 1928 Model A Roadster pick up that is 100% original. People look at me and at my cars and see they can not read me. the same thing goes for you as well, just don't let it get to you and go on and enjoy your self and consider the source when you see him in his plain jane set of wheels with no place to go!
Have a good one!

bill cartwright
 

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The Strawberry guys were so caught up in their own creative word clouds that they seemed to lose sight of the image they were trying create.

Even the posts explaining their concepts are a hard read. Too many words...

As Brabus sez. KISS A2Jack.
 

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Jeeez! What a pile! It's no wonder at all is it? They even referenced the old VW campaign and missed the whole point of it. That campaign said two things; Fun and Economy with the emphasis on Fun! You want to get smart marketing roaring down the road? Run TV ads with people having FUN while they drive past the gas stations!!! You'd find no shortage of volunteers here. Even in this tech age it's still very much true, for most of our population, that if it's not on TV it doesn't exist. Most people still have no idea what my car is! KISS!!! PS. If you're going to market something you should spend enough time studying it to at least understand its trademarks. Smart?
 
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Talking heads have their opinions, we have ours. Theirs are based on the expectations that the smart has to live up to the same way everybody else builds their cars, while we have no problem blazing a new path. Paying attention to talking heads is a waste of time. If every one of my customers agreed with the talking heads, they would be buying the same car every year with zero innovation. The talking heads are generally afraid to take risks and generally lack appreciation for true innovation.

And by gosh, if they can't figure out how to utilize an electronically controlled clutch, they'll always blame the car instead of their own lack of driving skill!
 

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The idea of a Cultural Movement Agency sounds really awesome...It's just too bad they SUCK at it...
 

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Talking heads have their opinions, we have ours. Theirs are based on the expectations that the smart has to live up to the same way everybody else builds their cars, while we have no problem blazing a new path. Paying attention to talking heads is a waste of time. If every one of my customers agreed with the talking heads, they would be buying the same car every year with zero innovation. The talking heads are generally afraid to take risks and generally lack appreciation for true innovation.

And by gosh, if they can't figure out how to utilize an electronically controlled clutch, they'll always blame the car instead of their own lack of driving skill!
Though I agree with most of your post, you are implying that the customer has to learn a new skill with a smart i.e. how to shift 'properly'. Imagining that it's OK for the customer to need to learn some new skill is only going to cause problems since very few reviewers or first-time [test] drivers are going to learn some skill over the short time they have the car. Rather, they should be told straight up it a manual transmission, but you don't have to shift since the car will do it for you. Even suggesting that's it's an automatic-manual, creates expectations that the transmission will behave like a automatic; when it doesn't behave as expected, it becomes a focus for ridicule and carping.

It is what it is. Personally, It doesn't bother me how the car shifts (I drive a 450 but I don't think they are THAT different), but I had exact expectations on how the car would behave while shifting before I ever got into one. Unfortunately most people don't do that level of research before they drive; so, the sellers need to take a very specific approach explaining that before the customer or reviewer gets in the car. The expectation has to be created first, then there won't be any disappointments (or fewer anyway).
 
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Though I agree with most of your post, you are implying that the customer has to learn a new skill with a smart i.e. how to shift 'properly'. Imagining that it's OK for the customer to need to learn some new skill is only going to cause problems since very few reviewers or first-time [test] drivers are going to learn some skill over the short time they have the car. Rather, they should be told straight up it a manual transmission, but you don't have to shift since the car will do it for you. Even suggesting that's it's an automatic-manual, creates expectations that the transmission will behave like a automatic; when it doesn't behave as expected, it becomes a focus for ridicule and carping.

It is what it is. Personally, It doesn't bother me how the car shifts (I drive a 450 but I don't think they are THAT different), but I had exact expectations on how the car would behave while shifting before I ever got into one. Unfortunately most people don't do that level of research before they drive; so, the sellers need to take a very specific approach explaining that before the customer or reviewer gets in the car. The expectation has to be created first, then there won't be any disappointments (or fewer anyway).
As a driver though, you are still somewhat in control over how the transmission behaves. More gas = more downshifting, Less gas = more upshifting. Maintaining pressure on the throttle pedal = more likely to run a gear to redline, Relieving pressure on the throttle pedal = more likely for the car to ditch the gear to a higher gear.

Based on the umpteen hundreds of test drives I've given to a countless number of people over the years, the overwhelming majority of those whining about the transmission (yes, whining), are those who are too stubborn to even pay attention to what the manual explains, or listen to those of us who have learned how to properly shift through the gears even in auto mode.

Very few have it completely figured out and still look me in the eye and say "I'd rather a full blown manual transmission" or "I'd rather the conventional automatic mated to a more powerful and less fuel efficient engine." From those responses, there's nothing I can do.

But blaming the car when the person clearly hasn't figured out how to drive it properly, is not the car's fault.
 

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Very few have it completely figured out and still look me in the eye and say "I'd rather a full blown manual transmission" or "I'd rather the conventional automatic mated to a more powerful and less fuel efficient engine." From those responses, there's nothing I can do.
Exactly, it's about expectations. This transmission shifts quirkier than other cars -- that's a fact. Smart is apparently, at every level in denial about that. People notice it and it seems odd to them -- it's not their fault, it's the way all their previous cars have trained them to anticipate the cars behavior. That is NOT going to be helpful to sales. So, people either have to be well-prepped before they drive, or it's really going to be off-putting (usually it's the latter).

But blaming the car when the person clearly hasn't figured out how to drive it properly, is not the car's fault.
Blaming the customer is always a great strategy :rolleyes: How;'s that working out for smart? Get a manual, get a real automatic (standard or CVT), or prep the customer for the experience so it doesn't throw them off on the car.
 
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