Mercedes-Benz consistently ranks as the world’s number one luxury automotive brand. But between a shift towards electric vehicles, the rise of hybrid working, and global economic factors like increasing inflation, the automotive category is undergoing a generational transformation.
Add to that an increased consumer demand for brands to act with purpose, and we saw an opportunity to engage a broader, younger audience who might not consider themselves traditional “car enthusiasts”. Branching out of an incredibly crowded category, in a way that aligned Mercedes' drive towards equality with their audience. So, while some competitors chose to focus solely on the product benefits of their new EVs, our challenge was to present Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to the next generation in a way that felt true to the brand but most importantly made the consumer the hero, not the cars.
To tell the brand’s story in an authentic way, we went right back to its origins. Where we uncovered a unique brand truth; Mercedes, one of the world’s most iconic brands, was named after a girl.
By way of backstory: In 1902, Emil Jellinek—a visionary and entrepreneur, and considered by many to be the father of the modern luxury car—worked with Karl Benz to create an innovative, top-of-the-line race-ready motorized carriage, or “automobile.” He entered his 4-cylinder car into races under the pseudonym, “Mercedes” after his daughter. Emil Jellinek won every race he entered. Soon, everyone wanted the car named Mercedes. Thus, the Mercedes brand name was born.
“From the very beginning, we were literally dedicated to the next generation”, said Monique Harrison, Head of Brand Marketing at Mercedes-Benz USA, “It’s a part of our brand DNA.”
So, given that it all started with a girl named Mercedes, we sought real-life girls named Mercedes across the US to inspire the brand once again.
To celebrate International Day of the Girl, we passed the mic to young dreamers and future world changers—all real-world girls, all named Mercedes. The cross-platform campaign ran across on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook with a longer anthem housed on the Mercedes-Benz USA YouTube channel.
Throughout the campaign, we showed each young woman, ranging from seven years old to mid-twenties, introduce themselves, saying “I am Mercedes” and then talk about their ambitions for the future. Beyond sharing a name with the brand, each girl was chosen for their varied interests and accomplishments in STEM, Sports, Activism, Fashion, Gaming, Art, and Music. With an individual part of the mini-series featuring each one of them.
And beyond highlighting women in the campaign, the “I am Mercedes” campaign was produced by Cutter Entertainment, a women-led production company and directed by award-winning photographer and director, Bethany Mollenkof, who told us, "Mercedes-Benz has long been an iconic brand, but I only recently learned the story behind the brand’s name. It was a joy to work with real-world girls named Mercedes and share their stories. I always feel honored to work on campaigns that center on women and girls and creating this piece with a women-led crew made the experience all that more remarkable.”
In addition to a multi-channel video-based campaign, Mercedes-Benz also partnered with Wonder Media Network, which featured some of these young world-changers on their Womanica and The Accidental Activist podcasts. All supported by the campaign hashtag #IamMercedes to invite sharing and UGC.
The results were immediately outstanding. In fact cross-platform activation across Meta, and TikTok surrounding International Day of the Girl and International Women’s Day generated:
Beyond engagement, we also saw incredibly positive results with the new audience that we'd hoped to engage, particularly through TikTok, where our brand lift was particularly strong. Including an increase in recall of over 15.5% and positive attitudes towards the Mercedes brand rising by 7.2%.
In putting the future consumer at the heart of Mercedes’ campaign, we were able to refresh the Mercedes brand’s DNA to engage a new audience, consolidating its position as a leader in luxury automotive.