SmartCar or Glorified Golf Cart?
When the Smart Car was first heard of in the United States, Americans were initially interested in the fact that it was a car that was environmentally friendly. Conveniently, at this very time gas prices were outrageously expensive, so when Americans heard how little gas is used in the Smart Car it became one of the most popular products introduced in the American market. Advertisers used these issues to market and campaign the tiny car in a conspicuously thought out way attracting every single person who has a license. The advertisement they created takes advantage of the Smart Car’s high points and takes no notice of other important features. The Smart Car’s advertisers are telling the American consumers that, when thinking about purchasing a car, the most important factors to consider are: how gas economical your purchase is, and how environment- friendly it is, as well.
In the advertisement I am analyzing, the Smart Car is portrayed as extremely convenient, economically friendly and definitely miniature. In the picture, the Smart Car is waiting at a stop light emitting a small, heart- shaped “cloud” of pollution. Behind the tiny car is a normal sized vehicle that has a much larger, and less attractive, blobby “cloud” of pollution coming from the tailpipe. Because the Smart Car was drawn with a heart- shaped cloud of smoke, advertisers are trying to show that this car uses little gas and loves the environment, unlike the other harmful, more popular sedans in America. Producers are showing that by purchasing this car, the consumer will also love the environment and save money on gas. This picture also gives off the effect that if you do not own a Smart Car you are disregarding the ecosystem and portrays the non- Smart Car owner in a negative way.
In their spacious ad, the producers left a lot of empty room in the picture to represent our environment. This empty space shows the viewers that the Earth’s atmosphere is a large part of how we live. Because the big ugly blob of smoke coming from the normal- sized sedan’s tailpipe is taking up a big amount of the representing environment, the audience receives the message that these normal American cars are the reason for the depletion of our atmosphere.
The written text in the image also makes the consumer feel like it is vitally important to the environment for every person in America to have a Smart Car. Written above the car in a green font says, “I GIVE OFF LESS BECAUSE THERE IS LESS OF ME”. Since the text is written directly above the main focus of the image it stands out very easily. It also stands out because it is written in a bold font and in all capital letters to make the statement seem even more imperative and drastic. The text, just like the image of the actual car, portrays the message that because the car is so small it’s more practical and convenient.
Another written text of the image is, “THE LITTLE CAR WITH THE BIG HEART.” This message is written in all capitals letters, just as the other one, to emphasize that this car cares about the environment. The words “the little car with the” is written in a smaller font than “big heart”. The prominence of these two words shows the spectator that the “big heart” is solely the most important part of the Smart Car. The “big heart” of the Smart Car shows the audience that even though the car is small and is not as flashy and great as other cars, it is a friend to the environment. The “big heart” portrays the message that potential car- buyers should choose this “underdog” of cars instead of a less efficient sedan. These two written texts get the message out to the consumer very plainly because they are short, bold and to the point.
The producers and designers of the advertisement use different colors to attract the consumers’ attention. Since there are few colors in the image the message of the designers’ is easily revealed: the Smart Car uses less gas and is better for the environment, compared to an average sedan. The standard sized car is colored with a disgusting, brownish color that is definitely unappealing to the consumer’s eye. However, by making the Smart Car a more attractive green, its image is more tempting to the consumer, and because the color green relates with the ecosystem, the message of saving the environment is tied in once again.
In a video of a crash testing for the Smart Car, producers display the small car traveling down a wet road at high speeds toward twenty tons of concrete. When the Smart Car makes its impact, the crash tester tries to show all the viewers the positives aspects of the freshly damaged car. He says that the steel cage “has done its job”, except for one spot, and shows that the door can still be opened. Then he very briefly stops at the front of the car to observe where the most damage was done, says nothing, and moves hastily to the next side.
During the crash, the audience can see the car violently smash its whole front end into the concrete which makes the car lift clear off the ground. When the man in the video talks about how the steel cage did its job very well, except for one spot, he neglects to recognize that the one spot he speaks of is located. In this case, the only spot the steel cage does not protect is right above the driver’s head. So, great! The steel cage works to try to protect the people inside a Smart Car, but is bent by the area of where your head would be.
The observer of the wreck then points out to the audience that there is no roof on the car and, during the crash, the plastic on top where the roof should be completely shattered. This new hole creates a great opportunity for one, or both, of the passengers to be ejected from the Smart Car while in an accident.
When the man in the video reaches the front of the car and sees the damage, he is obviously at a loss for words. The camera focuses in on the extreme destruction to the front of the small car and the observer says, “You can see that massive impact”, and moves along. What he does not point out is that the front of the car was smashed in so much that it probably crushed the lower half of the bodies in the car. He instead moves to the other side of the car, the side that wasn’t at all involved in the crash, to praise how intact the car was by opening and closing the door.
Using these ads to create a spoof, I am trying to expose the fact that the Smart Car is definitely not a safe car for the traffic conditions in the United States. In their ads, the Smart Car designers are obviously not skipping over the fact that this car is extremely little; however, they are only showing the benefits of having a small car.
So in my own ad, the previously less attractive, but bigger car will be running over the Smart Car, ultimately conquering and crushing it. This will take the consumer’s attention away from the pretty small car, and focus more on a different angle of seeing things. Also, the precious heart- shaped cloud of smoke coming out of the back of the Smart Car will be broken down the middle, emphasizing that a person could die in a car this small if they ever got into an accident. Because the advertisers made the Smart Car look so eye-catching and enticing in the first ad, consumers are definitely going to be attracted to it. So my goal is to make the consumer turn away from the previous advertisers’ points and think: “what if??” by taking the attention off the Smart Car and showing what could really happen to the driver.
Instead of having so much extra space in the advertisement, I have filled up the emptiness with other important and bold statements. Instead of having smoke come from the sedan’s tailpipe, I switched the location of it to make it look like it was coming from the front of the Smart Car. This large cloud of smoke now represents the damaging effects of a car accident, instead of the damaging effects of pollution.
The written texts in this new image should really help the customer realize the more important factors to consider while buying a new car. The text above the image of both cars will now read “i PROTECT you LESS because there is practically NONE of me”. I chose to only capitalize a few parts of the phrase because the larger words are the most important words in the message and even if they stood alone, consumers would get the point. Compared to the lower case words, they make a larger impact when the consumer reads this message. This written text will help my argument a lot because it is both eye catching and eye opening.
The other written text, on the top half of the advertisement now reads “THE LITTLE CAR WITH THE BIG DENT.” Even though the saying has not changed much, the meaning without a doubt has. The word “dent”, replacing “heart”, is more prominent to the human eye because it is written in a clearer text and is on its own line. I left most of this font alone to make the consumer notice that my new word is different and bolder. By making one word stand out, the consumer focuses most of their attention on the change and they think more about the message of the text. Instead of thinking, “Oh, this car is good for the environment.” they should be thinking, “Wow, that car is dangerously small for busy roads.”
The colors of these two cars in my ad will be changed, as well. Before designers were trying to turn the buyer away from the normal sized sedan by drawing it in a puke colored brown, but now it will be a very bold blue making sure it stands out to the consumer instead of blending into the background. The color of the Smart Car has changed from eco- loving green, to a vibrant red color. The red color was added to emphasize the fact that death or serious injury is definitely an option if someone owned a Smart Car and got into an accident.
A major factor that people take into affect when looking for a new car is the safety features. One of the best safety features with any vehicle is its size. Compared to most sedans that are being manufactured today, the Smart Car is about half the size and weight. Although it is important to consider the environment, it is more important to first consider your life or the lives of your passengers.
Car accidents happen every day to anybody, meaning no one is an exception. The goal for my spoof ad is to make the consumer, or potential car- buyer, aware of every feature of the Smart Car. I want people to realize that no, the Smart Car is not dangerous for the environment, but it potentially dangerous for you.
1. Unkown Author. “Smart Little Car with The Big Heart.” The Inspiration Room, 08 Feb. 2008. Web. 1 Nov. 2009. <http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2008/smart-little-car-with-the-big-heart/>
2. “Smart Car Crash Test.” YouTube.com. 22 May 2006. Web. 17 Nov 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJHpUO-S0i8>.