Europeans with a sweet tooth have become the target of a new DaimlerChrysler marketing campaign. The automaker's Smart subsidiary is working with confectioner Ferrero SpA on a cross-promotion programme that includes hiding miniature replicas of various Smart vehicles inside the popular Kinder Surprise Egg.

Philipp Schiemer, Smart's vice president of marketing and sales, said, "We are initiating long-term cooperation with Ferrero because it supports our goal of using unusual and innovative marketing channels for Smart. Ferrero is an ideal partner for us because the products of this brand have an extremely positive image and express a great deal of joie de vivre, just like the cars we have at Smart."

The programme, which began in August and will run for two years, calls for the production and distribution throughout Europe of 40 million injection-moulded plastic scale models of the Smart Fortwo Coupé, Forfour saloon, Roadster Coupé and the limited-production Crossblade.

Ferrero's miniature Smarts are quite nice for toys that come packed in candy eggs usually retailing for less than a euro. All the models are faithful miniature reproductions of the full-size cars and have interiors and accurate wheels. Most have transparent headlights and all have printed details like Smart logos and taillights.

The Fortwo and Crossblade are small enough to fit in the Kinder Egg's traditional yellow capsule, but the Roadster Coupe and Forfour are too large. So the Roadster Coupé comes in two sections while the Forfour has four pieces to be assembled. The parts simply snap together and Ferrero provides an instruction sheet. As the parts could present a potential hazard for infants and toddlers, Ferrero suggests the models, like all toys in Kinder Surprise Eggs, should be kept out of the hands of children under three years old.

The promotion is likely more clever than it might appear at first glance. While Kinder Eggs are primarily marketed to children, they also have a large and often devoted adult following. These older fans might consider a full-size version of a Smart car to go with their little surprise.

Bill Cawthon

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