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Mercedes Brand Gets Bent Out of Shape

Posted by Abe Sauer on September 28, 2011 04:01 PM

What the heck is going on at Mercedes-Benz? The latest high-rotation US campaign from the elder statesman of auto luxury has opted for downright aggressive, almost violent, messaging and imagery.  

For a brand most associated with classic, tasteful luxury, it appears to have slammed too much Red Bull. Or maybe it got divorced, got its ear pierced and started wearing Ed Hardy t-shirts.

In addition to the spot at top, which shows a middle-aged driver grinding a new C-Class through a corner drift like some punk teenager who lifted his dad's car keys, Mercedes has released a companion ad called "Unchained":

While it's not quite partying with Cheech and Chong, the tire-peeling, chain- and glass-shattering C-Class coupe ad feels more appropriate for the Dodge's reborn Challenger muscle car. In fact, a 2010 Dodge Challenger commercial already did Mercedes one better by dropping the music to heighten and enhance the (agressive) mood:

Sure, Mercedes may be angry that it may lose out to Audi in 2011 luxury sales, but does it need to let that anger flow freely? Is Mercedes' answer to Audi's accusations of being "old luxury" to drink a bottle of bourbon and pick a fistfight with everyone in the bar?

We recently took Mercedes to task for its grammatically questionable "less doors" line in the above spot, speculating that it may have been an inside joke. But now blogger Alex Leo draws attention to an awkwardly phrased call-out on the Mercedes-Benz Facebook page ... and, well, we're left wondering.


Robert Sawyer United States says:

What's happening at Mercedes-Benz?
I suspect advertising created by people who: A. Have never driven the car, or any of the cars with which it competes, B. Don't understand the market or have no empathy for the market, or C. Create advertising to compete with other advertising, i.e. Acura's "Aggression in its most elegant form.

There's a forth possibility, a new generation of writers and feckless CDs, informed by action movies and videos games, who can't imagine creating a thoughtful spot, and are incapable of creating a smart one.

September 28, 2011 04:48 PM #

olga koel Canada says:

I strongly disagree with you assessment.   I thought the videos were awesome. They speak  not only to a younger target market but they are really appealing to the mid life men and women who are re-inventing themselves.  Not the same old stodgy Mercedes.  

September 29, 2011 06:18 AM #

RWordplay United States says:

Yes, you're right, "Not the same old stodgy Mercedes." But unfortunately not competitive with BMW or Audi, which is to say, coming in at a weak 3rd. Not exactly an enviable position,or positioning. They'll have to work harder to compete with the other brands, this spot failed to do it.

And, if you're correct about the market, let me add, as someone in his early 50s,  they failed to move me. If I were looking for a new car, I'd still go for BMW or even the Mini (also BMW.)

October 5, 2011 06:18 PM #

Mike United States says:

Completely disagree, as well.  They're appealing to what anybody who turns to German luxury car brands wants from the car . . . performance.  BMW and Audi have done a better job with this positioning . . . Mercedes is trying to catch up.

September 29, 2011 11:39 AM #

RWordplay United States says:

Actually the performance angle is relatively new to Mercedes, it was positioned as the car for those who want luxury plus German engineering and the prestige that went with it. Or simply put, a whole greater than the sum of its parts

If they now want to compete with BMW and Audi, they have to work much harder and show more imagination. This isn't the spot of a winner but an also ran.

October 5, 2011 06:13 PM #

Dan T. United States says:

I rather liked them too.  Mercedes has always been about luxury, but the Japanese are now offering similar comforts.  Selling performance has helped other high-end cars so why not remind the consumer that they have that covered too.

September 29, 2011 10:28 PM #

A Sauer United States says:

I agree. I also agree that selling performance is something Mercedes needs to do. That said. the approach they've chosen--smash face testosterone--seems to be way off brand and spill into the target messaging of other (less luxury) autos. There has got to be a way to sell performance without such anger, no? I would argue that the Dodge commercial above sells performance better than either of the Mercedes commercials (especially the Matrix slow-mo action drift one)

September 30, 2011 08:40 AM #

R Davie United States says:

I disagree with the author. Mercedes-Benz has quietly endured other manufacturer ads brazenly taking credit for technologies that Mercedes-Benz is responsible for. Glad to see the brand marketed for what it truly is. Also, @Robert Sawyer - A, B, C, forth? Really?

September 30, 2011 03:24 PM #

chemical tanks nsw Australia says:

i also disagree, the videos are just great, i believe the luxury that has stand up for merecedez can be seen in the videos very well!

October 3, 2011 12:05 PM #

stickers label printing Australia says:

i agree with you! very fresh videos!! i like them too!

October 5, 2011 12:31 PM #

chemical tanks nsw Australia says:


October 3, 2011 12:25 PM #

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