On Wednesday, May 17, the movie will be screened for the first time in Cannes – from Thursday, May 18, “The Da Vinci Code” will be showing in cinemas around the world. And the smart fortwo plays a spectacular role: Audrey Tautou and Tom Hanks race through the heart of Paris in the zippy two-seater. This is the second big screen appearance of the fortwo just this year. The smart has been charming moviegoers as Inspector Clouseau’s official car in the remake of the classic “Pink Panther.” This product placement is the second major international “Focused Marketing” activity that smart has undertaken.
In “The Da Vinci Code,” the head curator of the Paris Louvre is murdered. He leaves mysterious clues of a hidden code in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. The symbologist Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks, is the prime suspect. But the police are not the only ones following him: an obscure sect is after him too. Its members will do anything to stop him from continuing his research. The smart demonstrates its qualities as an agile city car in a hair-raising chase scene: the smart speeds backwards along a footpath, then just makes it across the road between two freight trucks coming from opposite directions. The bestselling novel on which the film is based already has the heroes making their escape in a smart fortwo. “Director Ron Howard and the producers agreed from the start: the smart had to in the movie,” explains Oliver Hoffmann, Marketing Communications Manager at smart. “After the fortwo appeared in ‘The Pink Panther,’ the smart is now in the limelight for a second time within a few weeks, in important scenes of a worldwide blockbuster.”
Genius meets smart technology
Product placement is an integral part of the new strategic orientation of smart’s marketing mix. “In order to appeal more directly to our target group, we’re concentrating more than ever on promotion, product placement and sponsorship,” says Anders Sundt Jensen, member of the management at smart. smart will accompany the release of the movie with a comprehensive and multifaceted advertising campaign. The campaign’s claim “The mystery revealed.” alludes to the enigmatic events in the movie. The campaign establishes a link between the smart and Leonardo’s ingenious inventions: “The smart fortwo is ahead of its time, just like da Vinci,” explains Hoffmann. “It’s concept has set new standards. Thanks to its unparalleled maneuverability, there’s no better car for the city.”
A strong presence on the Internet and on the local level
The company has developed a topical Microsite to reach the Internet-oriented members of the “smart target group.” Visitors at www.smart.com/davinci
enter a virtual da Vinci studio. Sketches of the fortwo, drawn in the style of da Vinci, can be seen – highlights include 360° views, showing features like the tridion safety cell integrated into the smart fortwo. An online game is the Website’s biggest attraction for Internet users. Those who register have several weeks to solve three different riddles. The codes for the so-called Cryptex must be discovered – the encryption device is based on an invention of Leonardo. Visitors who come up with one correct answer qualify for an attempt at the final riddle, and a chance at one of the grand prizes: three home cinema systems. In the first two weeks alone this site was visited by just under 70,000 users. Top of the visitors table were the traditionally strong smart markets Germany and Italy.
Along with online communications, smart is addressing its target group through a number of channels like local promotions and events. For example, the “smart in the box” will be placed in a number of cities. The oversized box featuring da Vinci designs contains a fortwo, visible only through a peephole. smart dealerships will invite selected customers to a special screening of the movie. With “The Da Vinci Code,” smart is applying the same formula of multifaceted measures it used successfully for “Pink Panther” to strengthen the image of the fortwo as an appealing, unconventional city car.