Mercedes-Benz launches green campaign during Academy Awards


Nestled among the tributes to Hollywood’s brightest stars during the 82nd Annual Academy Awards will be a new Mercedes-Benz luminary, the S400 HYBRID.  Mercedes-Benz USA will debut a new ad called “Tree of Innovation” which stars the S400 HYBRID and showcases the company’s expanding repertoire of environmentally oriented vehicles.  The ad is the first to feature the new “voice” for MBUSA’s advertising, Jon Hamm, the Golden Globe winning star of the TV series Mad Men.

The Mercedes-Benz 2010 S400 HYBRID is the world’s first production vehicle powered by lithium-ion, a sophisticated new battery technology that is more compact and energy efficient than conventional batteries.  It is one of two hybrids the company offers along with three BlueTEC clean diesels and an upcoming fleet of fuel cell vehicles.

The 30-second “Tree of Innovation” spot opens on a majestic 250 year-old tree in a beautiful, lush environment with dozens of glittering glass frames containing images of Mercedes-Benz innovations hanging from its branches.  Under the tree is an S400 HYBRID. The camera languidly glides around the car to one of the glass frames.  Inside the frame is the small, innovative lithium-ion battery that powers the S400 HYBRID.  The camera continues to pan to a frame of the soon-to-arrive Mercedes-Benz hydrogen electric (“fuel cell”) vehicle which emits only water.  The next frame highlights the E320 BlueTEC that was awarded the “World Green Car of the Year” while a subsequent frame showcases the Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC fleet, some of the world’s cleanest diesel vehicles.  The spot ends noting that Mercedes-Benz not only strives to make the best cars in the world, but for the world: “a cleaner, safer future is what drives us.”

“The challenge was to create a spot that could reflect both the environmental qualities of Mercedes and their technological leadership … and do that in single spot.  We think the combination of the lush environment with the high-tech screens surrounding the S400 does that,” said Alex Gellert, partner and CEO of Merkley+Partners (New York), MBUSA’s lead agency and creator of the campaign.

After its debut on the Academy Awards on ABC, “Tree of Innovation” will begin rotating on such programming as “American Idol,” “CSI Miami,” “Late Night with David Letterman,” “Law & Order SVU,” “Today” and “24.”  It will also air on a variety of cable outlets, including Bravo, CNN, Discovery, HGTV, National Geographic and USA.    On the sports front, “Tree of Innovation” will be seen during ESPN’s “SportsCenter” as well as the NCAA Basketball Tournament on CBS in March.

Complementing the broadcast execution will be a mix of print advertising and online creative.  Beginning in April, a print execution will run in titles oriented toward affluent thought leaders, such as The Atlantic, Economist, Harvard Business Review and Time.  Additional placements in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal will run in conjunction with Earth Day on April 22.

The campaign also includes a robust digital component which includes an innovative mix of banner ads, interactive posts and key-section takeovers of sites such as The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Business Insider and Huffington Post.  Exclusive sponsorships of sites and their associated events will also be placed within thought-leadership communities such as Slate and

In conjunction with the Oscars, MBUSA will be running an Academy Awards Digital Extension on the ABC Network affiliate sites in MBUSA’s top 16 markets, as well as across the Los Angeles Times and The New York Observer websites. 

Additionally, while the awards are taking place on the west coast this Sunday, back on the east coast, the Reuters screen in New York’s Times Square will come to life with action footage of the S400 HYBRID, accompanied by rotating banners:  “The world’s most luxurious hybrid,” “Engineering a greener future,” and “This is what drives us.”  Digital initiatives are by Razorfish (Seattle).