Merkley Is Timeless for Mercedes-Benz

LOS ANGELES Mercedes-Benz launched the R-class vehicles last night with a 30-second brand spot via Merkley + Partners titled “1886,” according to the agency.

Shot in Prague to resemble late-19th century Germany, the ad shows two old men driving an original Mercedes horseless carriage. The men spot something off road and get out of the carriage to discover a 2006 R-Class Grand Sports Tourer. Excitedly examining the car’s features, they eventually note the Mercedes-Benz badge, suggesting that the men are Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz glimpsing the company’s future.

Copy read as voiceover includes: “From the people who brought you the world’s first car, comes the Grand SportsTourer. Introducing the R-Class, with seating for six and four-wheel drive.”

The spot runs in conjunction with print and outdoor.

“Ultimately, we go back to what Mercedes has that nobody else owns, the heritage,” said creative director Scott Zacaroli, who partnered with Roger Bentley at the New York agency under executive creative directors Andy Hirsch and Randy Saitta, “The guys are loosely designed as the founding fathers, but not officially.”

Zacaroli also worked last year with Santa Monica, Calif.-based Aero Film director Henrik Hansen on the brand spot “Faithful,” which included Sir Stirling Moss and a couple who put more than a million miles on their Mercedes. “There is something inherently emotional about the brand that supersedes product specs or categorization,” Zacaroli said.

A second spot breaking soon shows the R-Class GST moving down a scenic road as the passengers continually change.

“We wanted to create something that looked timeless, but also authentic to the period,” said Hansen. “So the casting had to be perfect and the acting subtle. The idea was to get the texture right to avoid the sense that everything was staged.”

Campaign spending is undisclosed. Montvale, N.J.-based Mercedes-Benz spent $160 million advertising in 2004 and $90 million through July 2005, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.