Kobe Bryant is Smart And Goes to 11--In China

April 8, 2011

When I saw this commercial for the Smart Car a little while a go, all I could think of was one movie that is widely lauded by biblical scholars, male slackers with low-riding, pizza-stained jeans, and most Caucasian men in their 40s who once may have been cool, hip and with it for about one semester at university.

That movie was This Is Spinal Tap.

What does a commercial with a six-foot twelve-inch basketball star of global proportions featuring a Mercedes-led, diminutive city car, in some markets with three turbocharged cylinders, and 800cc of anemic displacement have to do with a movie about aging heavy metal morons on a downward spiral that actually goes to 11?

If you have partially memorized the movie dialog like I did, you may recall that when things looked grim for the band, when Nigel Tufnel and his mates were at the end of their rope, they discover that the band is big in Japan and they are off to Asia to revive their career. And I have the feeling that this is Smart’s goal here in this commercial.

The commercial is for the Smart Brabus edition (a pimped-out and performance tuned version of the two-seat commuter) and it’s aimed at the Chinese market despite it being filmed in what is allegedly New York and all in English. I am assuming the main Chinese actress is a known quantity and Kobe Bryant is big. Everywhere.

The story is a little lame, with Kobe using his Smart to foil an art heist, and the dialog, if you could call it that, is stilted to be polite. And the notion that even a Brabus version of a Smart is potentially a sweet handling, peppy chase car is really hard to swallow. But perhaps in China’s filthy, congested, gridlocked cities, a Smart car isn't a bad idea at all, and one with more pep could be a good seller.

What do I know? I'm 5”6 even with a lot of hair gel and no one is begging me to be their spokesman for anything motorized, so maybe Smart knows its target market and Kobe will woo the car-buying public in the workers’ paradise.

[Autoblog, Chinasmack]

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