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Gary M. Smith

I have over twenty-five years’ experience working in advertising and design, with automotive representing a major component during this period. I served as Creative Director at agencies such as TBWA\\Chiat Day and MRM Worldwide. During this time I was responsible for creative strategy, concept development and web design for clients such as Nissan, Infiniti, General Motors and Indian Motorcycles.

Designing For Automotive

Automotive represents one of the most critical components of the U.S. economy, and perhaps no single product conveys my personal identity better than the cars I choose to drive. I have an extensive history in this vertical, extending back to the early days of the Internet when companies were scrambling to create their online identity and deciding how to utilize new technologies to market and sell their products. In many ways, I have worked with agencies and clients to help define the standards for successfully employing today’s digital tools and techniques.

General Motors

Working together as Creative Director I helped reimagine GM’s digital strategy during an era of great change and uncertainty. The work helped the client adapt to the new digital landscape, and also defined many of the ways that major companies would approach marketing and sales with these evolving technologies.

GM BuyPower

• Internet Marketer of the Year award, 2003, Advertising Age, automotive category

• Internet Marketer of the Year award, 2003, Advertising Age, automotive category

• #1 Most Useful Manufacturer Site award, J.D. Power, 2002 and 2003.

• Best of the Web award, Forbes Magazine, 2004.

At the core of the GM account was BuyPower, a concerted effort to transform how autos are marketing and sold over the web. This included extensive development of new design and development strategies, including the evolution of “hero imagery” to forge user connections. Today this is a standard approach, largely informed by this pioneering work.

GM Ticket To Ride

A true piece of Internet history, Ticket to Ride was the first ever online auto promotion campaign.  My team and I worked with the client and a create to explore how best to utilize digital design and a complex data-driven campaign to target customers.

The project, extending over several years.  It demonstrated that digital marketing would not only work, but that it could outperform traditional techniques. As Ticket to Ride evolved, a core goal became targeting consumers in a manner that drove sales much faster than mail-based marketing could.

GM Overdrive

• Internet Merit Award, One Show Interactive, 2002 & 2003

• Internet Merit Award, One Show Interactive, 2002 & 2003

GM’s Viewmaster campaign, “Secret,” sought to distinguish and evolve the quality perception of GM’s products. Aaron was assigned to the digital advertising segment of the campaign, including the implementation of some Internet firsts, like passing objects between two distinct banners. The campaign also represents one of the first major pushes to market to millennials, a group that had just become the fastest growing customer segment for the industry.

GM Ticket To Ride

My team and I were tasked with transforming GM’s summer promotion efforts from a one-sheet site landing page into a true omni-channel campaign. I collaborated the creative team in order to implement a summer campaign that included a full site, television ads, print and identity. Summerdrive identified strategies and elements that became central to GM’s promotion campaign approach.

Getting Nissan Back on Track

In the mid-2000’s, Nissan was struggling following years of declining market share. I served as a Creative Director, and later an Interactive Creative Director on this account, where I was responsible for creative strategy, concept development, core web design, and digital campaign integration.

Repairing the brand remained the core long-term objective. Campaigns like “Future Driven” and “_shift” helped re-establish the company as forward-thinking, innovative and dynamic. I also oversaw the relaunch of the 350Z and Frontier, two iconic vehicles in the Nissan line-up.

Under my tenure, the auto maker saw an increase in total U.S. market share, from 3.0% to 5.98%…and that share continued to grow in the ensuing years as a result of one of the most successful brand refreshes in history.

Pairing Luxury

As the interactive Creative Director at Chiat Day, I was responsible for a major refresh of Infiniti. I was responsible for digital creative deliverables, presentations, and new model launches. A core strategy was to reposition the Infiniti G35 as a luxury sports car.

During my time on the account, the G35 became Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, and went on to become a relaunch success story.

Indian Motorycyle

Indian Motorcycle went bankrupt in the 1970’s. At TBWA\\Chiat Day, I worked on the Indian Motorcycle account as new owners sought to reintroduce the iconic brand. Indian was relaunched, and began a decade-long path from obscurity to double-digit market share.

The campaign included a digital launch of the flagship motorcyle as well as other marketing materials.

Lexus Labs

Some of my earliest experience in automotive was with Lexus, where I was involved in designing and implementing Lexus Labs, an interactive training seminar that provided less expensive, on-demand staff training.  The work helped pioneer how today’s dealers utilize technological solutions to increase performance.

Subaru All Wheel Green

I designed the website and print campaign for Subaru’s “All Wheel Green” initiative, which included vehicle promotions centered around personalized guides for fuel efficiency and eco-friendly driving.

Telling the Story

Marketing for automotive is sophisticated and intricate. It’s vital to convey the right message and tone, whether that be the elegant sophistication of Infiniti or the free-sprited lifestyles captured in the GM Summerdrive work.  I have experience, working in this vertical, including branding and messaging. I’m experienced in using the existing style guides and coordinating with the various marketing departments and advertising partners to capture the culture and brand in every element of our work.
  • Brand Positioning
  • Content Strategy
  • Campaign Development
  • Competitive Audit
  • Identity
  • Websites
  • Display Ads
  • Production
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