R/GA New York Celebrates Anniversary of First Long-Distance Drive for Mercedes-Benz

By Erik Oster 

R/GA New York’s latest spot for Mercedes-Benz takes a look back at the brand’s past for inspiration—way back.

The agency highlights the anniversary of the first ever long-distance drive, carried out by Bertha Benz, the wife of Benz Patent Motorwagen creator Karl Benz, purportedly without his knowledge, which took place in August 1888. It makes for a compelling story, which R/GA and production company Normal Content crafted into a short film, beautifully shot in black and white and set to a sparse piano track, entitled “The First Driver,” released on the brand’s social media channels.
The film is an example of branded content done well, offering a convincing representation of what the first such automobile trip may have been like, even if, like most content based on real brand history, it takes a few liberties with the story.

Bertha’s drive ended up raising a good deal of publicity, while showcasing how the horseless carriage was fit for everyday use, making her something of a marketing pioneer as well as an automotive one. In 2008, the Bertha Benz Memorial Route was officially introduced, making it possible to retrace her journey.