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Touting all the sentiments that may be attributed to and normally associated with driving a Mercedes-Benz-joy, passion, security-the new offbeat corporate campaign from Lowe & Partners SMS, New York, incorporates both the classic car company's 110-year history and its renowned reputation for quality along with a few other characteristics all geared towards making (not just) boomers consider it a pretty cool car to own.

Mercedes? Cool? Well, yeah.

Take the outdoor work-this initial step in a massive campaign is bold, clean, vibrant and kinda fun. It's not what you'd normally expect from a somewhat stuffy manufacturer of fine German motorcars. In fact, it's a little shocking. Then again, following the likes of Lowe's "Rhinos," "Cupids," "Fantasies" and "Janis Joplin" spots, who knows what to expect? Creative group head/art director Andy Hirsch speaks of a three-year evolution the agency is tracking for Mercedes: "We tried to create a campaign where tonality and attitude connect, rather than using a formula. It's more of a surprise."

"And people don't expect that from Mercedes," adds creative group head/copywriter Marty Orzio.

The multi-faceted Mercedes work broke in mid-February with its teaser spot, "Symbols," directed by Steve Kirklys of Propaganda Films, wherein cut after cut of stock photo imagery, all representing qualities from power to prestige to beauty, excellence and fun, all lead up to one all-encapsulating symbol: the Mercedes logo. "Can a symbol stand for all these things?" asks the voiceover. "It depends on the symbol."

The spot contains no romantic bird's-eye view or rotating shots of a car; it contains no sheet metal whatsoever. And yet, says Hirsch, "This particular spot says more about the brand than any other spot we've ever done." How? The single frame with the Mercedes logo at the tail end somehow serves as a foundation, and incorporates all equities of the brand therein, he claims. The logo speaks for itself; the concept of prestige radiates above and beyond the pretty pictures of butterflies, prom queens, cartoons and quirky music, while still meshing with them nicely.

The five spots comprising the rest of the TV campaign commenced their full rotation within a week of the "Symbols" spot breaking. "Press Conference," directed by Michael Bay of Propaganda, turns a painfully sober-looking press conference into a Hollywood-style musical singalong (lyrics appear at the bottom of the screen and we follow a bouncing Benz logo). Music, pivotal in this spot, moves most of the spots of this campaign as well.

"Mercury," directed by Mehdi Norowzian of Joy Films/The Hat Co. of London, and Chelsea Films, New York, is perhaps the most beautiful and the oddest of all the new spots, but it corresponds clearly with the campaign's print in its tagline, "Performance." Against a sepia-toned arid environment and a Romanesque score, the god Mercury races a soaring cannonball. Two women in a Mercedes pass both with ease and the passenger snaps a picture of a perturbed Mercury as she zips by. This particular spot is well illustrative of the Lowe creative objective to highlight the traits that all Mercedes have but that some in particular exemplify: Mercury and, apparently, the SL series, typify performance.

"Don't Fence Me In," directed by Bruce Dowad of Bruce Dowad & Associates, Hollywood, focuses on joy, depicting singing coyotes, rattling snakes, and wide open space as a youngish couple drive to Look-Out Point. A rerecording of the old Gene Autry song has all characters in this spot swaying in perfect synchronicity. The emphasis is on classic fun-Mercedes' appeal, although reaching younger crowds, is ageless. Pronounced accessibility is the goal.

"Falling in Love Again," beginning with the voice of Marlene Dietrich singing the old classic tune, and directed by Gerard de Thame via HSI, New York, retraces the car company's history and all who have a passion for it, from Mercedes factory workers to the car owners themselves, often seen through old and digitally remastered Mercedes historical footage. Passion's what it's all about.

Additional agency credits to: chief creative officer Lee Garfinkel; creative group head/art director Randy Saitta; art director Barbara Eibel (print work); copywriter Mark Teringo (print work); and producers Peggy Moore, Bob Nelson, Gary Grossman, Anita Smith and Rachel Novak.

Editing credits to: Adam Pertofsky at Rock Paper Scissors, Los Angeles ("Symbols"); Tom Muldoon at Nomad, Santa Monica ("Press Conference"); Duncan Shepherd at Poppy Films, London ("Mercury"); Enrique Aguirre at King Cut, Los Angeles ("Don't Fence Me In"); and Ian Weil, London ("Falling in Love Again").

Music credits to: Jean Marie Salaun, New York ("Symbols"); composers Joe Hudson and Lyle Greenfield at Bang Music, New York ("Press Conference"); Phil Sawyer and Ross Gregory at Amber Music ("Mercury"); Jack Cavari and David Horowitz, New York ("Don't Fence Me In"); and Charlie Spencer at The Candle Music Co., London

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