For the foreseeable future, Mercedes-Benz will continue to have a little fun in its TV ads. It's an important part of Mercedes' effort to build a friendlier image.
'We don't want to be seen as taking ourselves too seriously,' said Rich Anderman, general manager of marketing communications for Mercedes-Benz USA Inc. 'We are making our brand more approachable.'
New 30-second spots for the 2000 model year from agency Merkley Newman Harty in New York include some characters who themselves are not very approachable. In one ad highlighting the CLK, a leathered biker and his moll are suddenly surrounded by a clutch of the beautiful coupes.
'What do they want?' she asks nervously. He warns her not to look at them - an amusing turnaround of the bikers-imperil-motorist cliche.
In another, five grungy guys - not the sort you'd ask over for cocktails - are backing into a giant slingshot in order to get the same acceleration one might enjoy in the new ML55.
'We wanted to move the needle of Mercedes as a brand,' Anderman said. 'The ads show that our vehicles are fun to drive, sportier. ... We've used some creative license, but the focus, even in a spot like the one with the motorcyclists, is still on the vehicles.'
Ads that generate chuckles are helping bring in new customers, many of them younger buyers, Anderman said. The Mercedes brand is advancing from being stuck on consumers' most-admired lists to their shopping lists, he said.
That, too, is something to smile about.