American Nothing

18 May 2006

In South Africa, a reader of one of Luc’s blogs spotted this billboard, which Luc then sent to me. I don’t quite know how to explain the lame copywriting. It sure has some humor in it, somewhere deep down, but it’s such an obvious lie that you’d almost be ashamed to have the ads up on the billboards. Trying to sell a car with a dumb line like this is a bit too much I think. It might be that I understand it wrong, that the pun isn’t intended… but I think a lot of people will have the wrong perception of this ad, which is also good to gain momentum, but I doubt it’ll help the sales… Isn’t Smart owned by Daimler-Chrysler? Isn’t that American? Then why would you want to make people believe the car is American Nothing? How about adding ‘American Money’?

Smart American Nothing.

Copy: “German Engineering. Swiss Innovation. American Nothing. Smart…”

You should probably read the comment of ‘Ben’ on Gateway Pundit where he points out what the intention was. Then you’ll see I was thinking in the wrong direction. I wonder if anyone saw it the same way…


Posted by Miel Van Opstal in Advertising, Campaigns, Marketing


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    May 19, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    [...] "German Engineering. Swiss Innovation. American Nothing. Smart…"Smart otomobilleri için güney afrikada yapılmış bir çalışma. "Alman mühendisliği, isviçre yeniliği, Amerikanın hiç bir şeyi" şeklinde özetlenebilecek bu kampanya için fazla söze gerek yok. Via Coolz0r [...]

  2. Xavier

    May 19, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    My understanding of this was: “Let’s make sure that people who know that Daimler-Chrysler is American don’t associate this car with Amercia.”

    Indeed, outside of the USA, a lot of people will avoid buying something just because it is American ..

    So, in my opinion, ‘Ben’ is right, and the people who have answered him so negatively don’t have a clue of the real world …

    I’d like to add, that I’ve been to the US a few time (included a 10 months stay), that I actually enjoy going there, and that I work for an American company … so I know what I’m saying

  3. Kimberly Kubalek

    May 19, 2006 at 5:47 pm

    I think it is hysterical. I think ya’ll are over thinking it. It caused you to 1) notice 2) laugh (I laughed out loud. anyway), 3) remember it and 4) to talk about it.

    That’s good advertising.

    And I’m an American (expat living here).

  4. Arthur

    May 19, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    Earlier today I sent photos and a video to the top brass at DaimlerChrysler in Germany, whom I’m sure were not aware of this ad. The result: an email from the local Smart Car manager saying they’re withdrawing the ad and apologising for any offence given.

    For those who don’t think it’s offensive, try replacing the ‘American’ with ‘Japanese’, or ‘Chinese’, or some other nationality that ostensibly has nothing to do with this car’s manufacture.

    Glad it ends well.

    For skeptics who think this ad is a fake: you can download more pics and a video of the offending billboard on the following link (1MB file):