Smart car, smart ad?

German Engineering. Swiss Innovation. American Nothing. Smart.

Photographed by Arthur Williamson, one of our readers in Johannesburg, South Africa. Cheap anti-Americanism? From a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler, a company with a major American component?

To prove that the pictures are not fake, here's a video.

Marketing whizzkid Coolz0r calls it "lame copywriting" and suggests adding the slogan "American Money".
Neandernews calls it "capitalizing on the all too prevalent anti-Americanism"
On Gateway Pundit, a comment from reader Ben who helped design the ad.





Although these comments are two years old, I'm sure that people will be back on this site now due to Thomas Friedman's discussion of the billboard. I would like to add, before people get their undies in a bundle, that nature223 was definitely not brought up in the U.S. because he uses a number of phrases and words that no "native" uses: lorry, seek, overlarge, mate, popping in the mouth. We just don't use those words on a daily basis. His phrasing is also different, and I say this as an ESL teacher for non-native English speaking professionals working in the U.S. Maybe the guy lives here now, which is fine, but you really can't judge the effectiveness of the school system on his writing, as I can guarantee that he did not go to school here.

Having said that, my husband, who is German and drives a Mercedes, called this ad campaign "idiotic". Our Mercedes is a lemon, by the way. I've never had a car with so many problems.




American here. no offense take. I get it and like it.




Seems like a slam against American tech. Cars do break. I diagnose all sorts of vehicles and appreciate the reasonable price for parts and sound diagnostic information available for the yank stuff. Computers are expensive as well the sensors for each type. Japanese cars owners pay a premium for parts as well Volkswagan,SAAB,Land Rover. I own american sports cars and regular passenger cars and as well own a business which assists garages and dealerships to diagnose problems they can't fiqure out. I am called in to diagnose/repair Japanese/Korean cars mostly but with the increase in Mercedez cars I expect to see owners cringing when they buy parts as well. Garages can't afford to make mistakes diagnosing because auto supply shops do not allow garages or car owner to return electrical parts; a $1500/6300 computer, and a misdiagnosis, no matter you own it. The engine computer for my American car is $125 bucks and in the years having replaced 02 sensors and the occasional tune-up. 340679km's later I think I am sold on the quality of the American car I own. Oh yeah I’m Canadian!




Concidering the horrible quality of Mercedes Benz products of lately (smart is a Daimler product), maybe the "American nothing" is a veiled warning.




typical elitist eurotrash.....we both know we're better then you....: )
and your an EURO cretin....




nature-creature, sorry but I have to classify you vertically and not wasting any more of my time with you.
Wish you all the best with everything in your LARGE country, and good luck with your English spelling and grammar. Bye.




ahh yeah sure.....must be nice to live in your world of "ME"
we're a capitalist country,and you sure as hell SHOULD'VE PROFITED HERE....
and no....pass,keep your sorry ass country,and you in it.
"COCOON" isnt in a country that rates amoungst the worlds largest.
your country's in europe rate as STATES here in mine.
pass,nothing there,that I can not find here.
and those of your country that came here,left YOUR'S for a might think on that for a minute...why did you go back?
and why did they LEAVE in the first place?
taxation perchance???




Dear nature-number, you say I have to keep my opinions to myself, maybe that's the case in your country, but here we can freely share our opinions, and we also have a sense of humour. And I can't remember if after the Middle Ages we beated up children here in schools.

I'm sorry I can't do you that favor by not coming to the USA: it's too late, I already was in your beloved country, and even for several times. And I spent quite a lot of dollars there, so that's good for your economy, isn't it? And when I was there in hospital, they'd let me pay 10 times more than what Americans pay here in Belgium for even better services. And if I had been without dough in the US I'm sure they would have let me die.

And yes, I certainly have my own little opinion about American schools, and I've found their average level far more inferior than here. Sorry, but that's my perception, also after working with US university graduates.

And what concerns your text, well apart from the mistypos it's still difficult to follow your reasoning and get the punchline. But yeah, I'm not a native English speaker, sorry for that.

So if you consider this as an insult, that's sad for you. And if for this you call me an obnoxious moron, well, I leave this nomenclature to your own account.

And maybe it wouldn't harm you if you did visit "foreign lands" and come out of your little cocoon called USA.




well Joe,seems I wastyping that on fairly late and I was tired,so typos ensued.
and on the internet you can be insulting person with no regard for anyone popping you in the mouth,for doing such a thing as you being the moron who seeks the shortest line to be an insulting prick.
schools indeed,seems you needed to get beat up more often in yours,to learn a bit more about when to keep your opinions to yourself.
I didnt seek to be insulted by the likes of you,grading my typing skills..I was merely making a point of how things are in my country.
so why dont you just do us BOTH a favor..stay in yours,and dont come to mine....I mean were sooooo unschooled we'ed torture you to the point of being annoyed just SAYING America.
Glad to see why I DONT have to visit foreign lands to meet a truly obnoxious,I merely have to go online.




@ ABDULRAZIQ : do you want the price with or without mounting in your ass?




@ nature2235: if you're really an American then I will never send my kids to an American school. They have to reason and spell a little bit better than this.








Hello...I can tell you with very good intent as a American,this is an insulting ad.
their trying to increase their market share in the United States,then they do dumkopf stuff like this....they apperently think were too STOOOOPID to see this stuff on blogs or merely shuttled about as a:"hey mate check this".
I find it typical of their arrogance,they whine and cry about their sales volume in my country..then seek to do a anti american swipe,were not foolhardy,and were arent that brand loyal to a attempt to smear us with a broad brush.
Anyone who has come tot he states has sen large lorry's and cars of distinctly good size.
there is a very good reason for this...our roads ARENT small.
out typical highway is EIGHT LANES,four one way-four the opposite,plus two shoulders-one on either side of the main road way.
Mercedes has alot to crow about now that they are making cars that cannot drive out the dealership without the person who bought it now screaming their high dollar toy WONT work right..their intial sales reports are abysmal in customer complaints,about defective vehicle problems.
CHRYSLER ...isnt selling the amounts they'd like,their minivans frankly eat a transmission every 120,000Km..that's terrible service,when a honda or a toyota isnt doing's screams;"buy their's" instead.
I'd say as a yank, they should'nt be so ignorant as to think we'ed simply cowtow to a quick apology and let this continue.
the car market has way too many very good choices to drive junk,and they stuff they produce and try to slide to the public isnt as decent at all.
SMART cars are a cool idea,in the city..they'd actually be a very good commuter car with THREE of them fitting into the area a ute we normally would drive into and hold as ground now covered in a overlarge UTE..not car..but UTE.
most of our cars are NOT that large.
most arent more then three/four meters in length...that isnt huge by any stretch of the imagination.
and that ad isnt gonna buy them any friends here....


Alex Nelon


I am an American and find no offense in the ad. In fact, I'd like Smart to put up a couple of billboards in Detroit. The US automakers have been ignoring their public for so long that they need a swift kick in the wallet. I'd love to buy one but unfortunately they aren't available from franchised dealers in the States (yet).




For those who easily write this off as "inoffensive," let's consider an alternate, hypothetical advertisement. Instead of a car, how about one for a housing development. And the copy reads:

Nice German architechure.
Finely designed Swiss fixtures.
Black people nowhere to be seen.

Wouldn't most people see this as vile and outrageous? Most would in my bad old United States! Strange, isn't it, how when the term "American" is used the same way, suddenly, many people don't see the problem?

* Of course, you can fill in whatever unfortunate racial, ethnic, or national group best suits your local conditions. Here in the 'States, that would usually be African-Americans, who've endured centuries of this sort of nonsense.


Bart Vanhauwaert


@arthur : I am trying your little thought experiment but no, I would not be offended if a similar ad read European/Belgian/whatever nothing.




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 'Belgian', or some other nationality that ostensibly has nothing to do with this car's manufacture.

Yes, this is a small petty issue, perhaps. But now that they've agreed to take it down, there's one less thing to rile me when I hit the highway.




We believe you Arthur that your photo is genuine!
And see, the billboard itself is ClearChannel, as American as it gets, and top quality!




I'm the guy who snapped the pic and sent it in to NeanderNews. I'm not American, but I (and most of the people I've discussed it with) can clearly see it's a cheap postshot and America and things American. Yes, it's a silly ad in a remote corner of the planet, but for me it's emblematic of a whole animus against the freest and most generous nation on the face of the earth. I for one am fed up to my back teeth with the endless sniggers at anything American.
(BTW, for skeptics who think this is doctored, I have hi-res stills and video of this billboard.)




Are you an American ? I dunno. Perhaps better than anti-flemish jokes.


stijn v.


I agree that this advertisment gives a wrong message. But I am sure Smart is not the only company to use the known anti-Americanism to boost their sales. There must have been at least some input from American publicity agents of DaimlerChrysler. Should we be angry at the Germans of the Swiss? Or was this advertisment approved by Detroit?




Most of the Americans joke about the quality of their own cars, I'm sure Americans who can "think" will appreciate this humor. And it will please anti-Americanists as well of course. Good marketing!




Is it a joke about America? Or is it just playing into the hip anti-Americanism in South Africa? Look how smart we are, 'cause there's nothing American about us... Or is it because this car is so small and American cars are so big?

I dunno, I want to find out what you think.


Francis Devriendt


Not every joke about America is anti-America Luc. And when it works to boost the non-existent sales of that ugly car, even the American stakeholders will be happy :-)