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15/10/2012 by

Mercedes Let Twitter Users Control Their TVC

Mercedes-Benz has used Twitter to enable viewers to select the ending of the car brand’s latest U.K. TV advertising campaign. At the heart of the campaign is a series of three TV ads to promote the car brand’s new A-Class vehicle to younger consumers.

The strategy was intended to tackle this issue by positioning Mercedes as a social advertising innovator. In this article we take a closer look at ‘the world’s first television advertising campaign in which the plot is decided on Twitter’ and conclude whether Mercedes has succeeded.

A sneak preview of the new campaign was launched on the 1st of October, with 10” TV teasers, press, posters and online displays to raise awareness of the live event, which was aired during the first break of the live edition of The X Factor UK in order to ensure the X Factor viewers were reached and engaged.

The commercials featured a musician, played by Kane Robinson, also known as British rapper Kane O, and a professional driver who are chased by the authorities on their way to a secret gig. At the end of the first 60-second ad, the audience was invited to choose what happens next by voting via Twitter using the hashtag #YOUDRIVE. There were 2 choices: #Hide or #Evade.

Take a look at one of the promotional trailers:

During the Sunday results show of X Factor, the 90” ad aired, recapping the first two episodes before showing the concluding chapter most popular with viewers. To view the 90′ spot, click here. (sorry not available on YouTube with an embed option).

Although it seems like the first commercial where viewers can control the plot using Twitter, Mercedes is not the first automotive to turn to Twitter to add some ‘social media innovation’ to its brand.

Volkswagen’s Brazilian arm, used Twitter to run an online treasure hunt and Jeep ran a campaign in which it invited Twitter members to solve a series of puzzles.

But the best example of a similar campaign is a quite remarkable one: Michael Mann’s ‘Lucky Star’ Mercedes Benz SL500 Advert starring Benicio Del Toro, back in the summer of 2002. This two and half minute film was built as spoof film trailer and was shown in cinemas and TV in the UK.

For those eagle eyed viewers there was a web address on the last scene of the film where some more information was given about the film- but this was taken down shortly after the airing.

Seems like Mercedes is trying to reinvent themselves with their own concept in 2012 and trying to make it more social? You can check this short film here:

From today 60” and 30” TV ads – edits of the footage – encourage viewers to visit (a custom-built YouTube channel) to view all available films and drive their own A-Class story.

If Mercedes has succeeded in becoming a social advertising innovator? Not in my opinion. Sure we understand that in a country were 77% of viewers watching TV with another device (laptop, mobile or tablet) in hand that this concept could be a logical one. But I wonder if this campaign is contributing to the ROI on Mercedes’ media investments.

Are they using the smartest possible mix of POE media, like Coca-Cola does for example?

Besides that, according to consumer research, the average age of a Mercedes owner is perceived to be 45. Mercedes says that with this campaign they hope to reduce it by ten years to help sell the new A-Class, which is cheaper than Mercedes’ bigger models and designed for younger, more fashion-conscious owners. I doubt it.

For me it seems more like trying to seduce a young, difficult target audience, with a big video production and paid attention, and make it hip with Twitter.

Looking forward to your replies! What is your opinion regarding this campaign? Is this the right way to reach a younger audience? Do you see Mercedes as a social advertising innovator right now?

About the author

Laurens Bianchi is an online marketing professional from the Netherlands and has been blogging on ViralBlog since 2008. Currently Laurens is a Managing Partner and Commercial Director at ICON&Co. Within the company Laurens is responsible for online and social media consultancy.


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