I was watching TV when a new Mercedes-Benz commercial came on. The scene is set—we’re in the suburbs, children are playing in the front yard, sidewalk chalking their driveway, families are cooking out, and all of a sudden, the sidewalk chalk begins to rattle on the ground as several beautiful red Mercedes models begin roaring through the neighborhood. Needless to say, everyone stops and takes notice, but all I could think is “these cars are speeding through the suburbs, totally ignoring the 2o mph speed limit.” Was Mercedes-Benz saying their beauty and luxury are more important than children’s safety? I walked away thinking Mercedes-Benz disregarded the safety of the kids when they were speeding through the neighborhood. I understand Mercedes-Benz manufactures family-friendly models, and maybe they were targeting family audiences to move these models. However, as a parent with children who enjoy playing outside, I have a certain amount of trust that folks passing through drive with caution. If indeed Mercedes-Benz targeted families for this ad, I doubt I’m the only mother with this takeaway.
When I was young, in the 80s, our family owned two Mercedes-Benz models. My dad enjoyed his red convertible model, and the family took road trips in a big-body model. I have an appreciation for the brand, the quality of the craftsmanship, and fond memories for sure. This became a lesson in messaging for me. Always be mindful of your audience and the values that matter to them the most and in doing so, be sure not to rub them the wrong way in any way. Every brand encounter matters. This encounter didn’t break the brand perception I have, but it was like eating a nasty jelly bean—left a bad taste in my mouth. What do you think?