What Happens to Luxury When #YOUDRIVE the Brand?
I come across a lot of different articles concerning marketing strategies in the luxury industry and, while all of them are interesting, it’s pretty rare for one to leave me confused. Rare, but clearly not impossible, because that’s exactly what just happened to me after reading about Mercedes’ new #YOUDRIVE campaign.
Confused is a strong word. Let’s say uncertain. That’s a more accurate descriptor.
Since obtaining its first automotive patent in 1886, Mercedes has remained at the intersection of class and innovation. By balancing these two elements, the brand ascended to the pinnacle of luxury, both within the automotive industry and beyond. Recently, however, the brand has made a number of moves that have left me surprised. It’s the #YOUDRIVE campaign that pushed me into the deep-end of the uncertainty pool. So what is it?
With this campaign, UK audiences are given the opportunity to drive (sorry for the pun, but it was pretty much going to happen one way or another) the outcome of Mercedes’ new TV spot. Interesting, right?
So what’s with all the talk about uncertainty, you ask? Well, think of it this way. If Mercedes was just an automotive brand, the campaign would be an interesting way to demonstrate a progressive approach to social interaction. But it’s not just a car, it’s a luxury brand, and typically the luxury industry is far more rigid about controlling brand identity.
Still though, why uncertainty? I’m getting there, I promise. You see, it’s not so much the campaign itself that’s got me thinking about the brand. It’s what a campaign like this says about Mercedes’ direction. You’ve got a brand that’s historically demonstrated a commitment to luxury craftsmanship that is now moving into the realm of high social engagement. Is it me, or does that signal a bit of a generational shift?
It used to be that brands like Mercedes were aspirational purchases made later in life when consumers had the economic means to do so. By promoting accessibility to a much younger audience, the brand is taking out the aspirational component and making its brand available to an entirely new segment. What’s more, it’s working. The Mercedes-Benz brand is up 10 percent according to Interbrand’s 2012 report of the Best Global Brands. You’ve got to wonder, is luxury changing? Are we looking at a new hybrid sub-segment set to come out of the world’s most established luxury brands?
You see those questions? That’s what we call uncertainty.
And now that I’m thinking about it, maybe uncertainty isn’t the right word at all. Sure, I’m uncertain about the future of luxury brands, but I’m also intrigued…yup, I’m sticking with intrigued.
So there you have it. What happens to luxury when #YOUDRIVE the brand? Confusion followed by uncertainty, which ultimately is replaced by intrigue. Kudos to Mercedes because I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re going for here.