DaimlerChrysler-owned Smart Car is reviewing its &£2m advertising business with Maher Bird Associates. It is understood the company is talking to as many as eight agencies about pitching for the business.
The review is being overseen by marketing manager Samantha Bridger, who was poached from mobile phone company Orange last year to be the car company’s top marketer in the UK.
Maher Bird, which is thought to be repitching, has held the account since Smart Car launched in the UK in 2000. The agency produced outdoor, radio and press campaigns for Smart, promoting both the cars’ safety and its low purchase and running costs.
Smart Car has just announced plans to launch the Smart Forfour, a larger car that will be its first four-seater, in early 2004. In September, Smart will formally launch its two diminutive sports cars in the UK after a trickle of left-hand drive deliveries. It already sells the City-coupé and Smart Cabrio in this country.
Smart cars began as a joint venture in the mid-Nineties between DaimlerChrysler and fashion watchmaker Swatch before coming wholly under the ownership of the German car giant in 1998, when the small cars first went on sale.
Smart cars are sold through four dedicated dealerships in London, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Manchester, as well as 45 franchises awarded to Mercedes dealerships.
Media buying is through BJK&E Media, which also handles the media business for parent company DaimlerChrysler, and is not affected by the review.