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Mike Jackson started this year by watching monthly sales of Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. top both Cadillac and Lincoln. Then the Mercedes-Benz USA President-CEO moved his $100 million ad account to Omnicom Group's Merkley Newman Harty from Lowe & Partners/SMS, both New York.

"I think part of our success has been the willingness to take risks and to innovate," says Mr. Jackson, who joined Mercedes from the ranks of its dealers. Since 1995, Mr. Jackson has launched revamped lineups of both the Mercedes E-Class and M-Class vehicles. Their success brought him recognition in the 1996 and 1998 Marketing 100 reports.

"The creative [advertising] style [is] such that when you look at it, your first reaction is perhaps 'not what you expected from Mercedes,' but your take-away at the end is 'that is what I expected from Mercedes,' " says Mr. Jackson.

"I think it's that open, risk-taking environment that we've established in working with our partners that has been a success factor for us-and that's not going to change."

This spring, the all-new 2000 S-Class vehicles went on sale and early dealer and customer response indicates another hit. They already are attracting younger buyers to Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

According to Mr. Jackson, "We expect that we'll have a very good median age for

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