Understanding who your consumers are is pivotal, but when it comes to experiential marketing, knowing where they’ll be is equally important.
The goal then is to provide them with the most engaging and entertaining experience possible. One that will get them talking, posting and sharing.
Mercedes-Benz know this all too well. Its latest campaign promoting its new voice technology offers U.S. Open fans the chance to receive personal serving training from (a virtual) Sloane Stephens. In doing so, it also provides marketers with a masterclass in experiential marketing.
Here’s why Mercedes’ Serve like Sloane is our August campaign of the month.
“We always try to be where customers are, and sports is a big one for us,” says Nicholas Emma, sports marketing and consumer events at Mercedes USA.
Mercedes are prolific in sports, from owning a formidable F1 team to sponsoring esports players. But one area they’re surprisingly active is tennis, hosting tournaments and featuring the sport’s most famous faces in their ads over the years.
This year, to promote its new in-car voice assistant technology, Mercedes set up a virtual reality serving lesson at the U.S. Open, taught by Sloane Stephens, who won the tournament in 2017.
The campaign sought to educate customers on the Mercedes’ new innovative technology.
U.S. Open punters step onto the mini tennis court, grab a racket and say the words “Hey Mercedes, teach me to play like Sloane.” the Mercedes User Experience Voice (MBUX) then evaluates how well you perform compared to the tennis champ.
Participants were then given a video to post on their social feeds.
The campaign showcased its new technology alongside the GLS model (a car in which it will be featured).
“We’re in the education phase on MBUX,” says Monique Harrison, head of brand experience marketing at Mercedes USA. “We want to make sure we are educating people on what’s in the next Mercedes they will buy.”
Why it Worked
The campaign is successful in three areas.
Firstly, you just have to look at the Superbowl to see that brands (no matter how relevant to sport they are) will spend many millions to reach a captive audience for a few seconds.
Mercedes, however, has sporting pedigree and fits naturally within many spheres of sport. The repeatability of this campaign enables it to be rolled out across many events in the calendar – the next being the Atlanta Falcons’ first game of the season. This time, fans will be coached how to throw like quarterback Matt Ryan.
So long as the audience is relevant, Mercedes has the potential to release different iterations of the same campaign on a wide scale.
Secondly, from a customer perspective, Mercedes provides a tactile and stimulating experience, giving this captured sporting audience a chance to do something they’d never ordinarily do.
The intelligence of its voice technology is brought directly to the users attention in an entertaining way, facilitating the whole activity from beginning to end.
Lastly, this campaign is a shining example of Mercedes’ thoughtful brand positioning. By adopting household-name, tournament champion Sloane Stephens as its global brand ambassador, the campaign not only becomes highly familiar and attractive to U.S. tennis fans, but also encourages shared positive associations.
Mercedes’ company values are passion, respect, integrity, discipline and excellence, all of which are shared by the brand ambassadors it chooses to endorse its products, and the sporting events it’s involved with.