Mercedes-Benz scores with (a) safety but not in the Super Bowl.

Mercedes-Benz participated in the Super Bowl for the first time a couple of weeks ago and they did a commercial that celebrated the company’s rich 125 year history while borrowing a little interest from Puff Daddy:

In USA Today’s Ad Meter, this commercial finished in the top third at 19th.  Of automotive commercials in the Super Bowl it was ranked 4th of 18.  Not a bad showing for the brand but it certainly isn’t getting talked about the way Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” spot or VW’s “The Force” commercial is.

I must admit, I felt a little let down.  The Super Bowl is such a huge platform and it demands that you have something important to say and that you do it in a different way. Chrysler understood this and is reaping the benefits.  Mercedes-Benz basically said that they have been building cars for 125 years and the newest ones are now available. Really?  Puff Daddy was enough to get noticed and for the car wonks among us there were lots of wonderful old MBs in the ad but that’s the best they good do with $6MM in airtime on the Super Bowl?

I’m sure the Super Bowl commercial reflects the push and pull of all the various constituents.  The agency folks want the message to be simple and easily understood, the company marketing people want it to be differentiating (125 years) and the dealers want to see product.  Check, check and check.

On balance, the commercial was solid, certainly nothing wrong with it, but it could have been so much more powerful.  Last year I came across some terrific videos from Mercedes-Benz that I think give a glimmer of what could have been:

Admittedly these are long form videos and it would be prohibitively expensive to run them on the Super Bowl as is, but with judicious editing you could easily make a :90 or a :60 that would have been much more impactful. Let’s see…125 years of company heritage and Puff Daddy… or the incredibly emotional true stories of people who believe that a Mercedes-Benz saved their lives.

The resulting commercial would not have met everyone’s requirements; you’d see only damaged product, and there are certainly other safe cars out there but the message would have been simple…Mercedes-Benzes save the lives of people like me.

Pretty powerful stuff.

See more of these “Impact” videos at Mercedes-Benz’ website.

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