Mercedes To Intro Hybrid During Oscars

Mercedes S400 Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz is introducing the first production lithium-ion hybrid vehicle to the U.S. market with a campaign launching Sunday, with an ad to air during the broadcast of the Academy Awards show on ABC. The new S400 Hybrid will be featured in a spot that also shows the company's other environmentally oriented vehicles. The spot also introduces the new voice of Mercedes-Benz USA, that of Jon Hamm of the TV series "Mad Men."

The Montvale, N.J.-based automaker says the lithium-ion battery technology offers more efficiency at lower weight than traditional hybrid auto powerplants. Mercedes-Benz's other hybrid is a version of its ML450 SUV. The automaker also makes diesel vehicles under its BlueTEC sub-brand.

Steve Cannon, VP of marketing at Mercedes-Benz USA, says the company chose the Academy Awards presentation to launch the vehicle both because of the huge audience and the Oscars' association with environmentalism.



"We wanted a significant platform for our sustainability story, but it's not just the weight of the media buy; it's also the right pulpit for the campaign," he says. "This is an especially big year for the Oscars, there's lots of interest in the show, and there's a good fit between Mercedes-Benz [hybrid and BlueTec vehicles] and Hollywood."

Cannon says that Mercedes-Benz has talked about its product sustainability to launch the diesel vehicles, but this is the first time it has done a TV buy around the message, and the first time the company has told a story about clean and fuel-sipping vehicles that includes diesel, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell.

"We really felt we needed a broader media strategy to tell a bigger story," he says. "And the issue is not going away; if anything, it will pick up over the next 10 years." The 30-second "Tree of Innovation" spot opens on a 250-year-old tree with glass-framed images of Mercedes-Benz innovations hanging from its branches. Under the tree is an S400 Hybrid. The shot focuses on another glass frame showing the lithium ion battery, then another one showing the forthcoming hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, then Mercedes-Benz's BlueTEC fleet. Voiceover says Mercedes-Benz not only strives to make the best cars in the world, but for the world: "a cleaner, safer future is what drives us," says the spot.

The automaker will also be running an Academy Awards digital extension on ABC network affiliate sites in Mercedes-Benz USA's top 16 markets, as well as across the Los Angeles Times and The New York Observer Web sites. During the awards, the Reuters screen in New York's Times Square will show the S400 Hybrid, accompanied by rotating banners: "The world's most luxurious hybrid," "Engineering a greener future" and "This is what drives us."

After the Oscars, the ad will run on rotation on programming like "American Idol," "CSI Miami," "Late Night with David Letterman," "Law & Order SVU," "Today" and "24." It will also air on cable channels like Bravo, CNN, Discovery, HGTV, National Geographic and USA. The automaker will also tout the car on ESPN's "SportsCenter" and the NCAA Basketball Tournament on CBS in March.

Print starting in April will run in titles like The Atlantic, Economist, Harvard Business Review and Time, as well as in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Ads for the latter two pubs will run on Earth Day on April 22.

Digital includes banner ads, interactive posts and key-section takeovers of sites such as,, The Business Insider and Huffington Post. The company is also doing sponsored integration on sites like Slate and New York-based Merkley and Partners is Mercedes-Benz USA's creative AOR and Razorfish did the digital work.

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