Is It Smart to Call Consumers Dumb?

I drive to Columbia University on Tuesday nights. And, even in Morningside Heights, finding street parking can be tough.

This week was no exception. I took my usual route: Down 125th, over to Amsterdam, then I serpentine between Amsterdam and Broadway until, with luck, I find a free or metered space.

After about 15 minutes of circling, I found a spot, but it was too tight for my Honda Pilot to squeeze into, even after several painstaking attempts to parallel park. As I pulled away, feeling deflated, a bright yellow Smart car flitted into the space like a songbird onto a feeder.

“This is so dumb,” I thought to myself, pulling into a garage that would later charge me $30 to park for the night. “Really dumb.”

The folks who make Smart cars must have heard me. Because they’ve launched a new campaign (see video above) that asks the question: “Why do so many smart people do dumb things?”

It might not sound very bright to badmouth potential buyers. (And conventional wisdom says never put a negative in a headline.) But I think Smart has this one right, especially for its target market of consumers who feel guilty about consuming too much stuff. 

I guess that means I’ll be seeing a lot more of the minnier-than-Mini motorcars on the streets near Columbia in the coming years.