MERCEDES ADDS ICM TO ITS CAST

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Mercedes-Benz of North America has tapped talent agency International Creative Management to play an important role in fashioning a hipper image to attract younger buyers.

Los Angeles-based ICM will focus on areas outside of traditional advertising, which will remain under control of Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, said Andrew Goldberg, general manager-integrated communications for Mercedes-Benz.

Both Mr. Goldberg and Lowe Vice Chairman Marvin Sloves rebutted speculation that ICM would play a role similar to that of Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Creative Artists Agency at Coca-Cola Co. CAA wrested creative control of Coca-Cola Classic from McCann-Erickson Worldwide.

"I'm the one who introduced Mercedes-Benz to ICM," Mr. Sloves said. "ICM is not a threat to us, they're an enhancement of what we're trying to do."

Mr. Goldberg said ICM will focus on developing exclusive music, TV and other entertainment properties for Mercedes-Benz. ICM also will develop a long-term strategy for using interactive media.

Recent Lowe-created advertising has aimed at convincing buyers as young as mid-30s that Mercedes-Benz is affordable and fits their lifestyles. A recent spot targeting baby boomers features Janis Joplin singing, "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz."

"The buyers we're targeting are hard to reach with traditional media alone, because they are exposed to so many different media offerings," Mr. Goldberg said.

The German auto importer wants a more youthful image in place for a series of upcoming products, starting with a redesigned E-Class coming this fall.

Mercedes also will begin marketing a U.S.-built sport-utility vehicle in the fall of 1997, and before the end of the decade is expected to bring to the U.S. its A-Class subcompact "minicar."

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