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How to Create Interest Without a Product To Show

Posted on the 11 December 2014 by Marketingtango @marketingtango
  • December 11, 2014
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How to Create Interest Without a Product To Show

Too many integrated marketers simply do what’s expected. In automotive advertising, for example, it’s using beautiful product photography. In fact, the parade of fast, shiny cars from one manufacturer after another has become a cliché of the form.

That’s why the approach that Mercedes-Benz took when the company launched its new GLA model was so unexpected.

The car company didn’t run TV commercials nor did it show the car at all—only its lowly cargo mat.

An Intriguing Brief

This is especially surprising, given the visual nature of some social networks. The creative campaign was inspired by the limitations outlined in “one of the most intriguing briefs ever,” as described by Alex Bodman, Group Creative Director at Mercedes’ digital advertising agency, Razorfish.

The new GLA car didn’t come out until September. But Mercedes wanted to reach the market during the early part of the year. “How do you build excitement for a new car, to a new audience, when you don’t have any cars?” Bodman asked.

The agency looked at their target demographic of consumers in their early 30s who thought they might not be able to afford a Mercedes for another 20 years.

The agency chose the popular social networks Instagram and Facebook as their main advertising vehicles for a couple of reasons. First, consumers now have screens with them everywhere, along with a camera in their pocket at all times. And secondly, Instagram, as the first native mobile app, is especially popular with the target audience.


“Younger consumers value experiences over things,” commented Bodman. “So the challenge with photography becomes how do we make it about lifestyle, the experiences you have with a car.”

Lacking an actual car to show, the big idea for the #GLApacked campaign was to show how different people might pack for a road trip with the GLA.

Mercedes and Razorfish created dozens of custom floor mats that represented the exact cargo space of the GLA. Mats had to be small enough to roll up and ship to celebrities and other influencers, who were challenged to think about how they might pack for a favorite activity or trip in the GLA, then asked to tag and share their photo.

Perhaps the lesson for small businesses and their marketing partners is that limitations can lead to some of the most creative solutions. Or to add a twist to the old advertising saw: in order to start thinking outside of the box, you need to start with a box.

See the Mercedes-Benz Instagram campaign and watch the “Pub on Pub” interview with Alex Bodman here.

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