Mercedes-Benz, which has been an intermittent Super Bowl advertiser in recent years, is jumping back into the game.
"We consider it still today to be the single most important communication channel a marketer can exploit," Mercedes-Benz USA Marketing VP Drew Slaven said. He confirmed the ad buy during an interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Mr. Slaven declined to reveal creative details, or identify which model or models would be featured in the spot. Mercedes-Benz's lead agency, Merkley and Partners, will be involved in making the ad along with other unnamed partners.
The luxury brand is the fifth automaker to confirm ad buys in Super Bowl LI, following Kia, Honda, Audi and Lexus.
Mercedes has previously run Super Bowl ads in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Mr. Slaven cited the news frenzy surrounding the 2016 presidential election as one reason why Mercedes sat out Super Bowl 50. "That was just so overwhelming last year that the Super Bowl almost as an event was being drowned out," he said. But he added that "I don't think we would have been there anyhow because we hadn't lined up a product that was worth investment."
Of course, political news could still be dominating the public conversation on Super Bowl weekend, which occurs roughly two weeks after the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. That dynamic might tempt some Super Bowl advertisers to seek to get in on the conversation. But Mercedes will steer clear of that, Mr. Slaven said. "We are going to stay away from opinions or plays on anything political," he said.
The brand is most interested in seizing on the eyeballs the game draws. It is the "single most important thing a marketer can do to talk to a highly engaged and a huge broad audience," he said.
During a press event Monday at the auto show, Mercedes unveiled the 2018 E-class coupe.
The brand in 2017 is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mercedes-AMG, which is its sports car and high-performance brand. The theme is "50 Years of Driving Performance." Engineers Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher started AMG in an old mill in Burgstall, Germany, with the mission of developing and testing racing engines for Mercedes vehicles.
Mercedes finished 2016 as the top-selling luxury brand, besting Lexus and BMW, which had the title in 2015.