The company will run national television advertising to tout the introduction, also for the first time, of an AMG version for its C-Class model line. The car, the C63--a 451 hp fire-breather--will get the spotlight in TV ads that show it spinning out in slow motion.
"While it's a Bluetec year, it's also going to be an AMG year for us," says Stephen Cannon, VP/marketing, explaining that the year will be book-ended by the $53,000 C63, which will be the least-expensive AMG, and a super-premium AMG SL65 Black Series, to be introduced late in the year.
Cannon says that the company decided to do an AMG version of the C-Class because the "sport" version of the new C-Class car--which is the version that accounts for most of the C-Class sales--is more of a bona fide sports car than the model has had before. "The sport gives us permission to do this."
The company expects to have relatively low sales of the C63, but Cannon says the car will serve a higher purpose as a halo for the brand. "It will cast a long shadow," he says. "It is also a new gateway to more performance at our lowest price point ever for AMG."
Cannon says the media buy will hit the Top 20 programs, plus roadblocks on morning news shows like "Good Morning, America" and "The Today Show." "It's a little unexpected--a show of pure emotion; pure adrenalin. It's targeted against BMW's M3 all the way. We clearly want to say this is a serious segment for us," says Cannon.
The company is simultaneously launching new tier-two or dealer group advertising with two TV spots on the C-Class and E-Class, respectively. Both feature ghost-like images that appear around the cars as they are driven about.
The C-Class ad shows ghosts of robotic production machinery that forms the Mercedes-Benz bodies to tout the vehicles' structural integrity; pit crews evoke the brand's race heritage. The ads tout things like structural steel and lower sport-tuned suspension. Cannon says Mercedes will run dealer ads with national weight, as well. "I'd run it with tier 1 money."
Also on tap starting this week is a micro site, and, ramping up toward the third quarter is a major effort to promote MB's Bluetec diesel vehicles. Efforts will include a half-year program with intercept guerilla events, print and thought-leader symposia (Mercedes signed on as sponsor of the Aspen conference); a multi-city interactive road-show with an environmental theme; a test-drive program and a "celebrity ambassador" program in Hollywood to get A-listers behind the wheel of the diesels.
The best argument will be the vehicles themselves. "Ultimately, the test drive will be the determinant," says Cannon.
Agency of record is Merkley and Partners, N.Y.