Smart’s first global field trip

Smart Technologies launches its first global, consumer-facing campaign promoting its interactive whiteboard. But how smart is it really?

Calgary-based Smart Technologies thinks learning is kick-ass and wants to celebrate it with the world. In May, it launched its first global, consumer-facing campaign promoting its interactive whiteboard (Smart Board) by extolling the virtues of learning.
“We wanted to raise awareness regarding the value of technology in education for all stakeholders in several countries,” explains Linda Thomas, VP, marketing, Smart Technologies.
The campaign, led by Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG in Toronto and developed with its network partners in London and Amsterdam, centres online. “We knew there was a community aspect to this,” says Ron Tite, VP, CD, Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG.
Elements include two videos housed at Smartloveoflearning.com and on YouTube and Facebook. The first vid is a brand film called “The Magical Classroom,” which illustrates how Smart’s interactive whiteboard enhances learning. The second is a teacher tribute. 
The effort includes a contest where people can share stories about amazing educators for a chance to win a Smart whiteboard to donate to a school of their choice.
Smart also just launched two executions in Times Square. The first is a 30-second spot airing on the NASDAQ building, depicting two kids using the tech. The second, playing on the Reuter’s building, features three execs showcasing the board’s business applications.
We enlisted Christina Yu, VP and executive CD at Red Urban, and Shoshana Price, brand manager, Ben & Jerry’s Canada, to school us on whether the campaign warrants an A for effort.     

OVERALL STRATEGY
Yu: I feel like the executions are trying to communicate too many messages. On one hand we’re asked to celebrate the teacher and on the other we’re shown the advantages of learning with Smart whiteboard products. I just feel that it might be more effective if they separated the messaging: a launch phase celebrating teachers followed by a second product-focused phase demonstrating the power of Smart Technologies’ learning tools.
Price: Connecting Smart Technologies to the important role that teachers play in our lives was an excellent way to create engagement. Smart realized having an emotional hook would create more buzz, and make the conversation and their product much more relevant for parents.

CREATIVE
Yu: “The Magical Classroom” was lovely but I wish it focused more on the love of learning. The teacher’s tribute was a nicely written video and a smart promotional idea.
Price: The films are effective in that they bring the technology to life, making it simple to understand its benefits while having the subject matter be a relatable and relevant topic: teachers.

ONLINE
Yu: As a gadget freak, I wanted to learn more about the Smart whiteboard, but couldn’t find much on the site. So I’m pleased to hear the next set of videos on YouTube will showcase kids and teachers using the whiteboards.
Price: Online is definitely an appropriate environment to showcase the technology.
It draws the consumer in with the emotional “Love of Learning” video and then gives them the opportunity to engage with and learn more about the technology. The microsite does such a great job that it brings into question the role of Facebook and YouTube. While Facebook is a great channel for the conversation around teachers and does give Smart an unintrusive channel to provide product info, it seems slightly redundant. Perhaps this funding could have been used to drive even more traffic to the microsite. 

TIMES SQUARE EXECUTION
Yu: With new technologies, demonstrating how it works is important. Even though this element is not part of the “Love of Learning” campaign, it would have been nice to see some online films featuring the product in action.
Price: Times Square seems like another great venue to bring Smart Boards to life. And it creates buzz within the media. What seems strange is not using it as another touchpoint to utilize the videos already created around the classroom and teachers. Introducing a video about Smart Technologies within an office environment seems disjointed and inefficient.

THE CREDS
advertiser Smart Technologies; agency Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG; CD Ron Tite; associate CD Michael Willson; AD Gira Moin; writer Erin Beaupre; designer Pierre Marly; executive producer Francesca Marchese; VP, director of client services & planning Jeff Plowman; strategic planner Alice Schaffer; account director Jessica Portmann; director Judy Welfare; prodco We are Plus