SBJ/June 27 - July 3, 2011/In Depth

Mercedes-Benz hits the social highway

Looking to build upon plans for its Super Bowl XLV ad — its first for the event — Mercedes-Benz worked with agency Razorfish to develop a program that would introduce a new generation to the automaker.

ALISON BROD PR

Brand: Mercedes-Benz

Agency: Razorfish

The goal: Harness the power of social media to reach a younger generation of potential car buyers.

Why it worked: “We got a little cooler and a little hipper and a little more relevant to a set of people we weren’t reaching before.” — Steve Cannon, Mercedes-Benz
“We wanted to create an experience that would grow and engage the Mercedes-Benz community online and position the brand as an inspired, forward-thinking leader in the automotive industry,” said Frederic Bonn, executive creative director at Razorfish.

The automaker created the “Tweet Race to the Super Bowl,” which used posts to Twitter to help send four drivers down the road to the game.

“What we liked about the tweet race was that it was nicely linked to our Super Bowl activation, but it stood on its own. It was a neat combination of ‘Amazing Race,’ meets the Super Bowl, meets social media,” said Steve Cannon, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz.

Four drivers — chosen from a field of candidates who applied via Facebook — and a teammate of their choice began the race to Dallas on Feb. 2. Each team, driving a 2011 Mercedes-Benz, started in one of the automaker’s four largest markets: New York City, Chicago, Tampa and Los Angeles.

Each team was also given a Twitter-savvy celebrity coach to help rally team support on Twitter, as well as raise money for charity. Teams and coaches needed to receive “Tweet Fuel” through retweets and hashtags by followers for the three-day trip. Social media-related challenges and help from coaches earned the drivers more points.

The winning team won a new Mercedes-Benz. All contestants, as well as the celebrity coaches, were the automaker’s guests for the Super Bowl.

“It’s safe to say the campaign exceeded our expectations,” Bonn said. “Some 21,000 people actively participated in the tweet race, which amplified into more than 500 million Twitter impressions.”

Cannon said that Mercedes’ Twitter following went from 0 to 77,000 followers, and its Facebook numbers grew by 400 percent.

“There was something very powerful about the idea that a simple tweet could move a car and creating an interactive digital experience that manifested itself on the roads, with real cars and drivers,” Bonn said.

— Molly Hogan
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