For the second time, Mercedes-Benz is launching a new vehicle in an area of the market where it hasn't had a vehicle before. As was the case in 2012, when Mercedes-Benz introduced the CLA compact sedan during the Super Bowl and then had to hang fire for months before actually launching the car, the automaker has some time on its hands before the September launch of the new GLA, the German automaker's first compact crossover. The company unveiled it in Frankfurt in September last year, and showed it in the U.S. at the L.A. auto show in the fall.
As it did with the CLA, the company is stoking the fire with a social effort. This time, it is tapping 20 or so athletes, artists, photographers and others with social media flare to tout the SUV's flexibility, a major draw for buyers of vehicles in this segment. As part of the effort, called GLAPacked, each of these folks will fill 43.6 cubic feet of cargo space with luggage they need for their idea of an ideal trip or vacation. They can't actually pack the real vehicle because it isn't in the U.S. until the fall.
Eric Jillard, general manager of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA, tells Marketing Daily that -- as it did with CLA -- Mercedes-Benz is moving into completely new territory with the GLA. "For CLA, we had 80% conquest. But the segment for GLA is so much bigger than the CLA segment. With the CLA programs [like “Take the Wheel”], we were really successful in driving awareness of a car and having people put it on their shopping lists. So when we had a similar situation with GLA, an all-new car, we wanted to build awareness early. And we think people will see it as an overall fit for their lifestyle, which is why we are so focused on versatility. It's a small SUV that fits their lives."
As part of the campaign, which runs through Aug. 31, each social maven will share photos of what they've packed for the trip, and how they would load up the vehicle for it. The influencers will use as a template a custom mat representing the footprint of the cargo area, rear seats folded.
Jillard says the people chosen to participate in this represent a psychographic array across a lot of meilleurs. "The participants are a rough mix of people who are engaged in social platforms as a central part of their lives. And some who have large followings because of their professions, like [PGA golfer] Rickie Fowler, who is also an MBUSA brand ambassador. Some are very significant; some are less, but we are trying to get a broad spectrum of influencers across industries and geographies."
When the vehicles start coming into the U.S., four of the participants -- Theron Humphrey, Cubby Graham, Kyle Steed and Brenton Clarke -- will take the actual road trip. When that happens, consumers can share their own photo of a trip they would like to take in a GLA, share it with hashtag #GLApacked, for a chance to win the trip. Through the month of July, consumers can go to GLAPacked.com to vie for one of cargos the five influencers packed.