tung by Japanese luxury entries in the early '90s, Mercedes-Benz of North America decided to appeal to mid-40-ish baby boomers, an age group more than five years younger than traditional owners of its E-Class model. The luxury carmaker also wanted to increase female ownership from 33% of buyers.
So it redesigned the auto by making it more stylish, upgrading safety features, adding more fun-to-drive features and pricing it right at under $50,000, says Mike Jackson, 47, exec VP-marketing, service and sales.
E-Class advertising had to mirror Mercedes' more contemporary image and strong selling points.
"We wanted to keep all that and add the emotional styling and fun-to-drive aspects" to tap emotions in a relevant way to reach baby boomers, Mr. Jackson says.
Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, met the challenge with advertising that reflected the new emotion (angels falling in love with the car) and the brand's tradition of safety (rhinos charging on an urban street).
In addition, the media plan was more diversified. Mercedes, for the first time, advertised in movie theaters.
Because plant changeover for the new model slowed production in 1995, E-Class sales last year were just shy of 25,000, or 2,000 less than 1994. Still, Mercedes overall had its best year since 1990, with 76,700 vehicles sold.
Mr. Jackson predicts E-Class will sell about 33,000 cars this year and surpass C-Class as Mercedes' best-selling model.