Merkley and dom&nic look to the past to inspire the future of Mercedes.

Few auto brands have as rich a history to draw upon as Mercedes-Benz, the luxury nameplate that was born in 1886. The continual challenge, however, is making the legacy of founder Gottlieb Daimler relevant today.

As a Mercedes-Benz representative explained, it’s “important that the heritage means something” and that the brand “keeps building on it.” In 21st-century terms, that translates into design and technological advances like multicolored interior lighting and an advanced traction control system. But rather than cram founder history and modern amenities into a single commercial, lead creative agency Merkley + Partners has split the question, creating separate ads focusing on each thought in a new campaign breaking today for Mercedes’s S-Class line.

The historical ad, “Four Words,” focuses on Daimler’s motto of “Das beste oder nichts,” which translates into, “The best or nothing”—a line that Mercedes has used as its tagline since 2010. The spot juxtaposes images of old tools and a riding helmet with a gleaming new S-Class. As the car rolls into a current factory, the voice of Mad Men actor (and brand voice) Jon Hamm says, “Introducing the all-new 2014 S-Class—our entire philosophy set in motion. Again.”

The ad about current amenities, “Control,” picks up where “Four Words” leaves off, putting the spotlight on the interior of the S-Class and noting its ambient lighting, seats that simulate a “hot stone massage” and a scented ventilation system. It still amounts to automotive eye-candy, but at least it’s grounded in what the features do for the driver. Cool, yes, but also functional and soothing.

The new campaign also includes a print insertion in magazines and the Wall Street Journal and a digital brochure on the brand’s YouTube page. The TV ads will run during talk shows like Today and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and during sports, scripted and news programming on network and cable channels.


Spot: “Four Words”
Client: Mercedes-Benz USA
Advertising Agency: Merkley + Partners
Executive Creative Director: Andy Hirsch
Creative Group Head/CW: Chris Landi
Associate Creative Director/AD: Kirk Mosel
Producer: Chris Coccaro
Production Company: Station, New York
Director: Dom&Nic
Edit Studio: PeepShow, New York
Editor: Andrea Macarthur
Post Effects: MPC, New York
VO: Jon Hamm

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