smart up Belgium!

For a year now, I have been in charge of press relations for smart in Belgium. An evolution in my professional career, because before that time ‘my’ areas were mostly events and internal communication. So, a challenging move to press communications and to smart. The latter really isn’t a problem, because I’m really a ‘smart’ kind of person. Young, trendy and lifestyle… that’s me. And as for the press environment, I was fairly comfortable with that too, having played an active role in the Press & Corporate Communication department for several years. But there I was, facing my first challenge in the new department: filling up the year 2013 with colourful and extraordinary press activities for smart. So, how could I keep us in the limelight and develop an extra media network? Time to conjure up a local event.

We soon found our angle: smart & lifestyle. Let me tell you something: up to now I’ve not really found a very convincing definition of ‘lifestyle’. So, time to do it our own way and replace the term lifestyle in this case with fashion. Fashion in the broadest sense of the word. With a little imagination you can easily see that what the smart BRABUS tailor made offers is the equivalent of haute couture in fashion. The various special editions complete the link to the ready-to-wear collections in the fashion world. Fashion was therefore the angle and the project was developed internally under the working title ‘smart fashion tour’. Now, all we needed was a link between smart/fashion and a location. Think. Think. Think. Belgium may be small, but it’s well-known for the Antwerp and Hasselt fashion museum and the Antwerp and Brussels fashion academies, amongst other things. Moreover, the ‘Antwerp six’ are a global phenomenon. (make the link). So, Antwerp it is with the MoMu or fashion museum as the launch pad. In this central location we are planning to receive journalists and bloggers and take them from there to various test rides to discover the typical world of the city and smart.

We recruited an agency to guarantee perfect logistics and to find interesting add-on locations. Not only did they come with great ideas, they weren’t afraid to let us know what they thought of ours. What messages were we planning to use to attract the busy lifestyle press to our event? Pure automobile and typical product information would not get these men and women excited. The same applies for bloggers, especially since we’re looking for the ones who can talk about more than just horsepower. Food for thought. Head-scratching time. Because it instantly brought home to us not only that the message counts, but that the packaging is just as decisive in creating interest.

A great concept was needed: What message do we want to send out? Three main accents were defined: urban & trendy, city & eco-mobility & fashion/individualisation. The idea of using the catwalk in the fashion museum was abandoned – too conventional, too traditional and thereby just too “unsmart”. We needed some pizazz running through the whole event.

So what did we come up with? A skatepark with graffiti-painted walls – admittedly we were inspired by international media photos of smart. The smart forjeremy was brought to Belgium as the ultimate eyecatcher, just like the smart BoConcept signature Style. We went to the BoConcept Flagship store in Antwerp and introduced ourselves. After weeks and months of searching, try-outs and juggling, the pieces of the jigsaw finally came together. At the end of May, a save-the-date was sent out. The actual invitation (photo) was sent out in the first week of June. The skatepark was given a spring clean by the owners – cobwebs dusted away, corners cleaned up – and a few top skaters and BMX specialists were invited to the reception and and were chosen to be the ones that later unveil the smart forjeremy for the first time in Belgium. The roadbooks – for our two and four-wheelers – took shape and our test vehicles were given a final once-over in the workshop. We started with the set-up on 17th of June, and I can tell you, I am really excited about the turnout!

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Céline Monbrun started in September 2007 as executive assistant for the Press & Corporate Communication department. In 2011 her function changed into Corporate Communication Officer and since 2012 she works as Corporate Communication Coordinator & Press Relations smart. She is responsible for the press relations for smart in Belgium.


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