For many years I have been concerned that many once great automotive brands have been allowed to fall into disrepair. Mercedes-Benz, a prime example, has been sliding ever since the early ’90s when it walked away from “Engineered like no other car in the world.” Superior engineering was deemed “unsupportable” in a market filled with able competitors like Lexus. Then unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz went through a period where its product quality was questionable. It seemed that the strategists were right, Mercedes-Benz could no longer hang it’s hat on its engineering creds.
That conclusion has always bothered me. I’ve always thought that Mercedes-Benz had a its own brand of engineering, it wasn’t always “better” than anyone else’s (although often it is), but I always felt it was “different” and therefore uniquely Mercedes-Benz. It always seemed crazy to walk away from one of the four or five true category drivers. But in an effort to “broaden” the appeal of Mercedes-Benz, they gave themselves credit for engineering and assumed that all their customers and prospects understood the core of the brand.
After years of neglect, it seems to me that the marketers at Mercedes-Benz are returning to the brand’s authentic roots and regaining their focus on engineering. Here are two commercials that have been on-air recently:
I’m not for an instant suggesting that these are the most innovative executions in the world, but it does seem to me that they are strategically spot-on for Mercedes-Benz. These commercials speak from the position of engineering. The E-Class commercial references that it is the “9th generation,” the product of “50,000 crash tests,” holds the “world record for longevity” and is “technologically advanced.” While you’re watching the C-Class roll over in a crash test you hear copy asking “When you buy a car, what are you buying?” a few factoids later you hear “the deeper you look the more you see the real difference and the more you understand what it means to own a Mercedes-Benz…the engineering of Mercedes-Benz.
Keen observers may have noticed that Mercedes-Benz has been running print ads with relatively long copy full of facts and rationale that supports their engineering positioning.
I can hear some ad wonks saying that they have seen these commercials before and that there is nothing new about a long copy ad. I would argue that these commercials do a very nice job of establishing Mercedes-Benz as a very special car company with quality engineering at its core. It may not be new, but neither is the brand and it will work, particularly with the new generation of luxury car purchasers who don’t know Mercedes-Benz as well as their parents.
While Mercedes-Benz is getting back to their core values, they are not living in the past. Their efforts to reach this new generation of luxury buyers through social media with the “Gen-Benz” online community and another program called “M-B Advisors” demonstrates that the Company is listening and learning. The traditional advertising may be well, traditional, but the folks at Mercedes-Benz recognise that to truly build their brand for this new generation they need to create a dialogue and a community around the brand in a whole different way (MediaPost.com).
Mercedes-Benz is doing a very nice job re-establishing its brand’s core values and teaching a new generation of customers what their brand represents. If they keep this up, and perhaps restore “Engineered like no other car in the world” maybe we can take this great brand off the endangered list.