Diana T. Kurylko
Diana T. Kurylko
BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, Subaru Reporter

The great car commercial -- Mercedes style

Mercedes hopes that Neistat's work will help the automaker shed its image of “the brand of my parents.”
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Mercedes-Benz -- intent on creating nonstop buzz for the new CLA sedan -- is turning to a source of marketing new to the company.

It has hired young filmmaker and director Casey Neistat, 32, to make four short films for social media about the compact coupelike sedan that goes on sale in September. Mercedes-Benz is trying to appeal to buyers in their 30s and 40s; it has priced the swoopy front-wheel-drive CLA at $30,825, including shipping.

It trumpeted the CLA's price with a very hip but un-Mercedes-Benz-like Super Bowl commercial featuring an all-star cast that included actor Willem Dafoe as the devil, model Kate Upton and R&B singer Usher.

Until the CLA hits U.S. showrooms, Mercedes-Benz is using social media to reach potential buyers, says Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.

"We understand that if we want to be relevant, we have to connect in their language and meet them on their own turf," Cannon says. "We will have to get out of our comfort zone."

Cannon hopes that Neistat's work will help Mercedes-Benz shed its image of "the brand of my parents."

Neistat's Nike video featuring the athletic apparel maker's "Make it Count" slogan has been viewed more than 8.7 million times on YouTube. He created an eight-part autobiographical TV series for HBO, "The Neistat Brothers," that aired in 2010.

In the first CLA video posted on YouTube, Neistat explains how he is going to make a CLA commercial "my way."

It is called "An Explanation" and features the seven vehicles he has owned -- including beater pickup trucks, a BMW station wagon and a 2001 Mercedes-Benz C230 with a six-speed manual. He included pictures of the 1963 230SL that "my mom bought without telling my dad," and his grandfather's 1980 300D.

The clip ends with the CLA being unloaded in front of his New York studio and Neistat driving it down a city street.

The next film will be "Research," followed by "Production," and finally the "Great Car Commercial."

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at dkurylko@crain.com. -- Follow Diana on Twitter

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