Smart Canada’s clever use of an old school advertising medium

Compact car brand uses tri-board to promote special savings program

Smart Canada123w is using an old-school advertising medium to help promote a special savings program for Smart car owners, which includes cheaper parking and car washes.

The Vancouver-based agency has taken a downtown Vancouver tri-board – which is a three-faced billboard that rotates – and uses all sides to show how the cars take up less space.

The billboard first appears as though it’s promoting a larger car, but as it slowly flips over, it unveils the compact Smart car with a tagline that reads, “Only pay for what you use.”

A 30-second YouTube spot also shows a Smart car driving into a small, designated space for the vehicle in the parking lot below the billboard, the cost of which is 30% cheaper than other, larger spaces.

The car company has agreements with some parking lots and car washes to offers discounts like these for Smart car drivers.

“It’s a few little things for owners that make owning a Smart car even smarter,” said Rob Sweetman, founder and executive creative director at 123w.

The billboard is located in a downtown Vancouver neighbourhood where there are a lot of condos. Sweetman said the billboard is aimed at pedestrian traffic and people living in the area who are more likely to own or be interested in buying a Smart car.

Sweetman said the agency had a few other ideas, including potentially mounting a Smart Car on the billboard, but said the structure seemed too antiquated to support it.

He said it was one of the few cases where the media came first in the creation of a campaign.

“It’s about as old school as you can get,” Sweetman said of the tri-board platform. “This is the first time I’ve ever really embraced it.”

The savings program gives Smart car owners a 30% discount on reserved EasyPark locations in Vancouver, deals at Enterprise car rentals for larger vehicles when needed; a free car2go membership and a 50% discount on car washes at select locations.

Sweeten said it’s the first leg in an ongoing campaign to promote the program, which will likely take place across other media channels and platforms.

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