A series of Chinese New Year-themed Mercedes advertisements have been receiving flames for poor production that even first-year film students wouldn’t touch with a 10 metre pole. Netizens will not be silenced on this issue, but if you really think about it—that is probably exactly what Mercedes wants.
Growing up in a media-saturated age like today has soured our palates to advertising. This is the generation that invented the ad-block, after all.
We have grown to resent being coaxed into doing something by the detached suits high up in their ivory towers, only speaking to us through the professionally-crafted minute-long slots they call advertisements.
And so we celebrate their failures.
The suits could not pay us to care about what they have to say, but by god we would happily tell anyone who would listen if what they had to say was said stupidly.
I believe that Mercedes knows this, and their marketing team is full of thumb-twiddling geniuses.
Many are appalled that Mercedes would ever think to associate their brand with a sub-par production that was their Chinese New Year short. After all Mercedes stands for class, elegance, poise and a bountiful checking account.
The script and editing look like they were done by a bored 15-year-old looking to make a quick buck, and the acting could give even Tommy Wiseau of The Room fame a run for his money.
How could a video like this be published under the auspices of Mercedes? Some netizens have even taken pity on the poor Mercedes cars that have to be associated with such an embarrassing video. Others are even sympathising towards the international Mercedes brand for this blight on their history.
Can such a large and established organisation not afford to create advertisements that are at least above typical YouTuber quality?
You can judge for yourself here.
At the time of writing, the video has 177K views, and 1.2K shares.
Oh look. Everyone is watching their advertisement for their car, and all eyes are on Mercedes. By sheer numbers alone, that is an effective advertising play.
Getting traction by going negative
Yes, I am postulating that Mercedes developed the shoddy videos on purpose to incite netizen ire and generate attention towards their brand.
And it’s all about branding.
Mercedes’ possible raison d’etre for this marketing decision lies something along the lines of why Milo will never stop advertising. Everyone at this point in time in Malaysia already knows what Milo is. But they will keep on churning out those commercials, because they are competing for prime real estate in their consumers’ brain space.
A person’s attention is now more scattered than ever, with way too many brands competing for the crucial attention. Now with Mercedes’ ad reaching many eyes and drawing their attention, negative as it is, the next time that people think of premium cars the Mercedes-Benz name is surely going to linger in their minds.
And that there is the end goal.
According to Mark Raine, vice president, sales and marketing passenger cars, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, the social media clips “compliments the overall campaign taking on a different angle with a humorous and light-hearted twist”.
He added, especially on social media, the platform lends itself to communicating with a wider audience while using material “with a more real-life touch and feel” as opposed to filming a full-fledged TVC.
“In general, we intend to create awareness for our brand, products and services taking different and fresh approaches,” he said.
Analysing the timing behind the next ad
If the shoddy first ad was a mistake, then Mercedes would have backed down and kept their head low after the fallout.
No successful business runner should be blind to the chatter surrounding its brand. And yet despite knowing about the Malaysians’ backlash they launch another short video, this time arguably even more cringe-inducing than the other.
If this was just a normal ad there is no reason for them to create two different shorts that are only launched one week apart.
What reason would they have to produce and run two simultaneous shorts practically back-to-back?
Taking the one-week upload gap between the two videos in mind it seems that Mercedes waited just long enough for the first video to pick up steam and incur the wrath of social media, then immediately pushed out the second video. This further capitalises on the internet fire.
A similar social media hailstorm once occurred in 2015, following an advertisement from Ambi Pur making rounds on social media. It was a poorly done Photoshop attempt from a stock photo of a white family in a car, and the driver is even on the wrong side of the road for Malaysia.
Seeing the backlash that followed, P&G made the move to take the offending advertisement down, giving the following statement:
“We are aware of the discussion about our Ambi Pur Ad posted on our Ambi Pur Facebook Fanpage. We do welcome all feedback for our future marketing activities. Nevertheless, we mistakenly posted the photo as seen on the page and then withdrew the ads after we have found out that it was posted. We will ensure that the posts and photos will not be mistakenly posted on our page in the future.”
This is the usual reaction from a large corporation if an advertisement they made offended their audience’s sensibilities.
Meanwhile, Mercedes goes ahead and launches another arguably more cringeworthy ad.
In the end despite any Malaysian outrage at Mercedes, when the dust finally settles on all of this it doesn’t really change whether or not you want a Mercedes.
The car keeps its place as a valuable status symbol, because the longtime branding backing up the vehicle has implanted the idea into our minds that a Mercedes car is more than just transportation. It’s a status statement.
By the end of all of this Mercedes might come out of it none the worse for wear, but with a bigger stake on the public perception for any of their future product offerings.
Feature Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Facebook.