Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Smart Launches World’s First Twitter Ad

Small cars, short ads.

by on Apr.16, 2012

Smart's Argentine subsidiary has launched what it bills as the world's first Twitter ad.

It had to happen.  And how could it be more appropriate: the maker of one of the world’s smallest automobiles turning to one of the shortest forms of social media to get the message out.

Daimler’s Smart car brand has just launched the first ads on Twitter, the short-form messaging system favored by everyone from celebrities to precocious tweens.  While that might seem difficult to accomplish in 140 characters, the maker’s Argentine subsidiary did it by creating a high-tech version of the old flipbook concept.

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As a video reveals, by flipping through 455 individual tweets you’re greeted with an animation showing a Smart fortwo cruising down an Argentine street.  And, in keeping with the Tweet limits, the ad ends with a 140-character tagline that translates, from the Spanish original, into: “It fits in any space. Why not in 140 characters? Smart Fortwo…a big idea for the city.”

The idea behind the campaign is simple, the maker explains, “The ASCII animation at runs similar to a flip book using the ‘stop motion’ principle. By scrolling down, the images in the 455 individual tweets come to life to create an animation. They show a smart fortwo driving through the city and maneuvering into a tiny parking space. With this innovative advertising campaign, the brand is once more underscoring its role as a trendsetter in modern urban mobility – true to the brand claim ‘open your mind.’”

(For a YouTube video that animates the images for you, Click Here.)

The idea of using Twitter to get the message across is no surprise.  Plenty of celebrities have already embraced the service as a way to build their own “brand,” and Twitter itself has said that it has big plans to try to monetize its extremely popular service.

Automakers, in particular, have begun to heavily embrace social media, especially as they battle it out for the newest generation of car buyers, studies showing Millennials are as addicted to tweets, text messages and Facebook as earlier generations were to automobiles.

In fact, as recently reported, a new study suggests that this dependence upon social media may be one reason why Millennials are far less likely to get their driver’s licenses while teens than were Baby Boomers before them.  (Click Here for the story.)

Which social media platform will prove most effective remains to be seen.  Ford has just launched a “plug-and-play” game on Facebook to promote its new Focus Electric and will stage the first contest on Yahoo! that will give winners one of the battery cars.  (For more on the Focus Electric game and Yahoo contest, Click Here.)

Clearly, spending through alternative ad channels will continue to grow as automakers look for routes to cut through the advertising clutter and reach potential buyers through the methods they prefer.

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