NEXT A-CLASS

TitleNEXT A-CLASS
ClientMERCEDES-BENZ JAPAN
Product / ServiceA-CLASS
CategoryA05. Best Launch or Re-Launch
EntrantHAKUHODO Tokyo, JAPAN
Entrant Company HAKUHODO Tokyo, JAPAN
Advertising Agency HAKUHODO Tokyo, JAPAN

The Campaign

“Next A-Class” is a 6-minute brand movie produced by taking full advantage of animation techniques, an art form developed most notably in Japan. The movie was used widely in TV commercials, cinema ads, online banner ads and outdoor ads, with a central focus on the client’s Website. This brand movie is designed to connect the compact car model, which was not conventionally communicated by Mercedes Benz as its strength, to “young” people, leading to future sales for brand. Brand PR is meaningless if it’s merely for developing buzz. Young people today are surrounded by a huge amount of content and audiovisual experiences 24 hours a day. This project met the challenge of “seizing their hearts” for a few minutes by outrivaling other sources of entertainment that have strongly appeal to them. We believed that, if we succeeded, our brand content would spread on its own and we would achieve our PR goal among young people. The movie depicts an imaginary, futuristic relationship between a next-generation young man and a car, interspersed with a sense of the “groove” and the pleasure of driving, in a way possible only through animation. It received about 3 million PVs within a month of its release from people in 180 countries around the world.

The Brief

Our goal was to connect the compact Mercedes (A-Class) model, not one of the automaker’s strengths in the past, with young consumers for whom the automaker had not built ties, to generate future sales.

Results

・A month after its release, the film recorded over 3 million views from 175 countries around the world. This movie won a ton of favorable coverage in both the mass media and SNSs. ・The number of people who visited the A-Class Fair was up 74% from the year before; the number of first-time visitors was up 250%. The campaign gave momentum to the brand, resulting in an improved business performance of Mercedes-Benz Japan: ・2012 sales (number of vehicles sold) were up 26.2% from the previous year, a record growth rate in 20 years. More than 40000 vehicles were sold in 2012. ・Mercedes became the No. 1 premium import brand for the first time in four years. ・Most importantly, Mercedes received over 5000 orders for A-Class in the 2 months since its release, and the volume of orders rose about 800 % from the same period of the previous year.

Execution

We delivered a Mercedes brand experience to the target audience in the form of animation. Animation can be a strong weapon for portraying the future, or fancy by using imaginative images. Brand PR is meaningless if it merely generates buzz. The most important goal for us was to have the target audience experience the Mercedes brand’s value via another medium. We decided to create a movie about an imaginary, futuristic relationship between a next-generation young man and a car using animation because people’s imaginations can create a future and can portray a futuristic vision in the most realistic and attractive way with animation. Animation is also very much a part of Japanese culture and it appeals strongly to young Japanese.

The Situation

As in other parts of the world, in Japan, there is an accelerating trend away from driving among young people. Many of them have never viewed cars as being cool, to begin with. On top of that, to them Mercedes-Benz are luxury cars for a handful of rich people, making these cars the farthest away from them. They will, however, be the most important customer segment in a decade or two. Without winning them over, Mercedes will not be able to survive. Was it possible that, rather than younger people turning away from driving, it was the automakers that turned away from them? The project began with this critical question.

The Strategy

Beat the Other Contents. Young people today are surrounded by a vast amount of content and audiovisual experiences, including from smartphones, PCs, movies and games, 24 hours a day. We met the challenge of “seizing their hearts” for a few minutes by outrivaling other sources of entertainment that strongly appeal to them. Our bold strategy was to create content powerful enough for them to want to watch it, rather than devising a publicity mechanism or contrived setup.

Credits

Name Company Position
Daisuke Ryosho Hakuhodo Inc. Copywriter
Satoru Iki Hakuhodo Inc. Copywriter
Koji Takahashi Hakuhodo Inc. Art Director
Satoshi Ito Hakuhodo Inc. Planner
Taishiro Kato Hakuhodo Inc. Creative Director
Natsuo Sato Hakuhodo Inc. Executive Creative Director