A Smart Car isn’t just a car–it’s an idea. Sure, sure. Heard it all before.
Every car company will tell you that their car isn’t just a car. Landrover is the possibility of the open road; BMW is design and performance embodied.
Of course no one’s convinced that a Landrover & BMW aren’t really just cars–cars that do cool stuff, cars that make you feel powerful/authentic/hip/successful but cars nonetheless.
Smart’s Smart Urban Stage project is a world apart. This campaign demonstrates that Smart is indeed a smart car company that is thinking outside the box with four doors.
The Smart Urban Stage project asks experts from around the world to reflect on cities and what they call the “Urban Status Quo.” They create a forum where intellectuals from various disciplines can ask luminaries in their fields to respond to questions about the future of urban life.
One example is trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort’s question about Nationalism. She asks “How Can We Come Together?” and invites food stylists and artists to respond. The responses are fascinating but also provide a platform for global artists and intellectuals to profile their work to new audiences. I also happen to know that Smart remunerates all of the participants for their contributions. Smart.
Here are my reflections of why the Smart Urban Stage project goes further on helping Smart be more than a car:
- The campaign is about creating dialogue: Rather than Smart telling you what it thinks about the future of cities it opens the question up to a diverse range of intellectuals, artists and thinkers who do the heavy lifting.
- It positions Smart as a leader. This is an issue that Smart Cars are linked to because smaller cars open up whole new ways of thinking about the urban landscape and about design’s role in constructing a better future. But, it’s not a direct link. And, Smart’s role, while not hidden, is appropriately balanced in relation to other content
- It’s actually interesting. So often initiatives like this sound interesting in boardrooms but can’t really compete with all the other cool shit on the web. Fact is, this one can.
Do you think this is just another clever car campaign in disguise? Or is this more interesting? Would you participate if they asked you (BTW, I know someone who has been invited to participate and she’s taking these questions very seriously)