DETROIT -- A 60-second TV spot in the fourth-quarter of next month's Super Bowl will kick off Mercedes-Benz's marketing for the CLA, a four-door compact with coupe styling that goes on sale in September.
So far, CLA marketing has been mostly word of mouth, backed by event marketing and auto show appearances for the CLA concept.
The Super Bowl spot will reach about 111 million people, said Bernie Glaser, Mercedes-Benz USA vice president of marketing.
"This opens up the CLA to a new audience," he said. "It is a pretty affluent demographic and a good opportunity for us."
Mercedes-Benz showed the CLA to journalists before the Detroit auto show press days, but not on the show floor. Concept versions have been at music festivals, the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup golf tournaments, New York Fashion Week and auto shows in the United States, Europe and China.
Until the Super Bowl spot shows the car, a billboard in Louisiana near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome teases with a headlight and the banner: "One Temptation no Saint can resist."
In October 2011, Mercedes bought naming rights to the stadium, home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints and the site of the Feb. 3 Super Bowl.
The automaker will continue its pregame marketing with print ads in USA Today and the February issue of ESPN the Magazine. Four 15-second and one 30-second TV spots were to have aired Sunday, Jan. 20, during the AFC Championship Game and then on the Mercedes-Benz Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Mercedes will display the car at the Super Bowl and will host 120 dealers and guests at the game.
"We want our dealers to see this platform and how impressive it is," said Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon. "The brand is looking for big platforms and [the Super Bowl] projects an image for us that we are punching a couple classes above our weight."
Mercedes expects the Super Bowl commercial to drive traffic to its social media and digital sites.
Mercedes-Benz is pushing the car so early in the United States because this will be the CLA's biggest market. The car's official auto show debut will be in March in Geneva.
The downside of the early marketing is that "dealers wish it was immediately available," Cannon said.
Mercedes is considering a presale program for the CLA. But one tactic is out -- the $99 reservation program that Smart offered before Mercedes-Benz took over U.S. marketing and distribution of the microcar. Cannon said potential buyers quickly slapped down the $99 -- and just as rapidly canceled their orders.