Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Mercedes-Benz Puts New Spin on Image with Ads

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Mercedes-Benz Puts New Spin on Image with Ads

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Mercedes-Benz used to think it was enough to promote its luxury cars' safety, reliability and performance. Its advertising was understated, conservative.

Not anymore.

The German automaker is about to kick off its most extensive new- model launch in the United States with an ad campaign that includes crooning coyotes, a rubber ducky and a Greek god racing a cannonball. To help broaden its appeal to younger buyers, Mercedes-Benz began casting off its serious, aloof facade in 1994 with the first in a series of ads that combined music, nostalgia and humor. A commercial featuring the late Janis Joplin singing "Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?" was considered a risky departure from Mercedes' staid image. But it turned out to be wildly popular with the baby boomers the company was targeting. Mercedes' latest TV ads, which debut Feb. 13, are aimed at further redefining the company's image by associating its cars with such emotions as joy, passion and love. "The goal was to evolve the Mercedes image to stay true to its core values of safety and reliability, and to add to that an emotional side -- the joy of being inside a car like the SLK," said Lee Garfinkel, chief creative officer for the agency that created the ads, Lowe & Partners. The multimedia campaign coincides with the arrival in showrooms of the German-built SLK, a cute $39,700 roadster with an innovative retractable hardtop. Not that Mercedes really needs ads to sell the car; its first year U.S. allocation of 6,600 already is sold out. Come September, Mercedes will launch the Alabama-built M-Class, a mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle priced in the mid-$30,000 range. A month later, the sleek $40,000 CLK coupe will arrive in showrooms. With those new products, Mercedes expects its U.S. sales to significantly exceed 100,000 units this year for the first time, breaking its 1986 record of 99,000 and far surpassing last year's sales of 90,844. …

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