Mercedes Puts Its Weight Behind C-Class

VP-Marketing Says Automaker Is Set to Spend Big, Will Run Ads on National Broadcast TV

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DETROIT ( -- Mercedes-Benz is backing its redone C-Class line with what VP-Marketing Steve Cannon said is the biggest model blitz in the automaker's history. Mr. Cannon declined to discuss specifics, but the prior bell-ringer for the brand in terms of spending was in 2002, when it launched the E-Class with $33 million in measured media.

The C-Class launch, breaking Sept. 10, marks Mercedes-Benz's return to national broadcast network TV.

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The C-Class launch, breaking Sept. 10, marks the advertiser's return to national broadcast network TV; the last appearance was for the 2002 E-Class effort. The brand has since then relied on spot and regional buys.

The brand, which ran an emotional "Falling in Love" campaign in the late 1990s, is steering into rational territory.

'Because we promised'
Merkley & Partners, New York, created a body of work for national and regional TV, radio and print with the unifying theme of "Why," asking questions about the automaker's extensive testing, attention to detail and engineering. "Because we promised you a Mercedes-Benz" is the answer in all the ads.

"We're pretty balanced as an emotional and rational brand," said Mr. Cannon. The ads, he added, articulate complicated ideas -- about Mercedes' new-car development and testing -- in a few seconds. The advertiser's extensive ad pre-testing showed the work is resonating with consumers, he said.

Mercedes-Benz is promoting two distinct versions of its entry-level and volume sedan in the campaign. Most of the ads show the C-Class sport model, which starts at $31,974. The luxury model starts at $33,675. The target is evenly split between male and female, college educated, with annual household incomes of $100,000 and ranging in age from 30 to 60, Mr. Cannon said.

Mr. Cannon, who was part of an international team that handled Mercedes' M-Class SUV integrated launch in 1997, is also playing heavily in the events arena for the C-Class. Consumers can register for free "C Drive" ride-and-drives via an 11-stop tour, and in the same cities Mercedes is also staging more informal, impromptu stops at art galleries, design studios and select retail outlets.
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