Mercedes-Benz Employs Mario Again
DEC. 16, 2015 • While plenty of household brands worldwide are cross-promoting with Star Wars this month, automaker Mercedes-Benz continues to partner with Nintendo Co. Ltd. to help sell its GLA SUV in Japan. Last year, the carmaker decided it needed a little different approach to help support an automotive category it has only recently entered. Instead of concentrating on luxury and raw performance, Mercedes-Benz chose to pull in 30 to 40 year-old consumers with a series of whimsical 30-second television commercials in Japan. These spots were complemented by a set of Mercedes-Benz cars that showed up as DLC for Mario Kart 8. This week the carmaker is using Mario to promote the GLA again, in this case with a sponsored downloadable event course for Super Mario Maker, called Mercedes-Benz Jump ’n’ Drive. After players complete the course, a Mario driven GLA is unlocked.
Impact: When Nintendo started talking up its mobile plans earlier this year, the company was very careful to add that it was also actively pursuing the licensing of its IP in unexpected places. For those who question what was the appeal to Mercedes-Benz of using Mario to promote high-end SUVs – the GLA starts in the $35,000 range in the U.S. – this decision is astute demographically. SUVs, even high-performance ones, are more often than not family vehicles. As DFC first pointed out 10 years ago, there are many Nintendo Dads out there, men who grew up with Nintendo and are now having children of their own. Add into the mix that Mario remains a hugely popular character in Japan, and the rationale behind Mercedes-Benz working with Nintendo is easy to grasp. What’s more, the ad is fun embraces Japan’s quirky media sensibilities. While we don’t foresee this cross-promotion selling additional copies of Super Mario Maker, or the Wii U, Nintendo may be the primary beneficiary as the gamemaker’s brand is so positively reinforced. Usually, sponsored game content does not get such a high-profile marketing send-up. Yet one constant is that sponsored game content has been very successful for auto manufacturers over the years. Whether it is special content for popular racing titles, or games created specifically for a car brand, consumers continue to respond well to these initiatives if they are done right. In this case, we think Mercedes-Benz has achieved the right mix of fun and fancy for a successful campaign.