Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mercedes tries social video with GL car chase

German automaker Mercedes-Benz is pushing the driving dynamics and comfort level of its new GL vehicle in a social video that depicts a spontaneous car chase, but its commercial-like qualities and length could deter viewers.

The automaker is showing the GL in a four-minute car chase scene that ends with a touch of humor as the passenger discovers that his driver has two small children in the backseat who have comfortably been enjoying the ride. The video includes text to clearly highlight the aspects of the car that the brand wants to showcase, but might not be enough to compete with BMW’s social video efforts.

“Mercedes is attempting to create a level of excitement around its new GL model and, at the same time, emphasize some of its most advanced features via media and entertainment consumption online,” said John Casey, founder of Freshfluff, New York.

“If viewers are not already familiar with the featured technologies, then it serves as a way to point them out,” he said. “However, the commercial-like concept, and a generic story line, might prevent them from watching the entire video in order to learn about all of the attributes.

“Most likely, the video will serve to inform current Mercedes-Benz customers about the GL model’s latest features.”

Mr. Casey is not affiliated with Mercedes, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Mercedes was not available for comment before press deadline.

High-speed chase
The new GL highlight film was released on Mercedes’ YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages.

The video shows “how the luxury SUV transforms a wild car chase into an entertaining joyride,” per Mercedes.

The video begins as a man runs down an alley holding a bag, assumedly filled with money that was just stolen.

Another man chases the burglar down the alley. The burglar gets into a van and speeds away.

On the street, the policeman sees a man driving a silver Mercedes GL. He puts out his hand to stop the car and gets in.

The man behind the wheel of the Mercedes rives after the van. As certain mishaps occur, the video points out technologies in the GL vehicle that can solve the problem.

For instance, the rearview camera is used when the car is blocked on a one-way road.

Each time a feature of the car is used, white text appears on the screen and shows the name of the technology.

The video ends on a bridge where the GL is joined by other police cars and the burglar is caught.

To the passenger’s surprise, there are two children in the backseat that are amazed by what they have experienced during the car chase.

Mercedes vs. BMW
Many luxury automakers push commercials via social media, but BMW has been a leader in developing videos just for the Web that aim to tell a story. Mercedes is probably looking to push past one of its top competitors online.

“BMW was one of the first to produce viral videos with its Guy Ritchie and Madonna videos about five years ago, and they continue to be a leader in social video for luxury car manufacturers,” Mr. Casey said. “Currently, BMW has a hot video about their M5 that has created quite a buzz and has already garnered over 3 million views.

“The video is artful, creative and mysterious, does not sell the car with commercial-like caption descriptions and is at two minutes, which is right where a branded viral video should be,” he said.

The M5 video created by Canada BMW displays the speed, agility and performance dynamics of the automaker’s new model that it hopes will maximize the model’s visibility and play to its strength.

The automaker opted for social video since luxury and high-performance automakers have die-hard fans, which increases the likeliness that this video will spread (see story).

M5 video

In addition, BMW used humor to appeal to consumers in a social video called “Three of a kind” that portrays the history of the 3 Series through a trio of uncanny characters (see story).

Also, the automaker used social media outlets to encourage consumer participation in a contest that showcases the new 3 Series vehicle with a set of user-created YouTube videos that are 5.9 seconds in length, the same amount of time that it takes the car to go from 0-60 miles per hour (see story).

Mercedes is likely hoping that this video will display the key functions of the vehicle to a few niche audiences.

“The video does a couple of things, and one is to obviously demonstrate, in an entertaining and engaging manner, the features and benefits found on the new Mercedes-Benz GL, and to do so in under four minutes,” said Bob Prosser, CEO of Auto World Marketing Corp., San Diego.

“Another is to define the target buying demographic for this new GL, which besides being the affluent and sophisticated female, is the 30-something sophisticated male and more to the point, a family-man, he said. “Mercedes-Benz wants to make that point clear via the slightly humorous twist at the end.”

The automaker may have missed the mark for this video by making it too commercial.

“It is a joke and a bad one at that,” said Rob Frankel, branding expert at marketing consultancy firm Frankel & Anderson, Los Angeles. “If anything, it illustrates the desperation of Mercedes to make a minivan hip, slick and cool, and it does it at the century-long legacy of the Mercedes brand.”

By Tricia Carr
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