Kate Upton Mercedes Ad Inspires Outrage, Gets Lots of Attention

Question: when does a “controversial” ad clip double as a shameless PR stunt? When the team’s strategy anticipates the public outrage and uses it to attract even more attention. Get ready to be shocked: this is a common thing.

When Mercedes-Benz hired experimental bra tester Kate Upton for its Super Bowl spot and leaked a trailer that promised to show her washing the new CLA four-door coup “in slow motion”, we feel like they somehow knew that the Parents Television Council would see it, issue a statement and encourage members of the public to voice their outrage.

Could the Mercedes team be so deliciously crafty? Well, the clip already has more than three million views on YouTube. (You don’t really even need to watch it, by the way. You get the point.)

And now for the incredibly predictable backlash:

Fans were “not fawning” over the spot; others gave Mercedes “flak” for aiming toward the gutter with an “overtly sexy tone.”

On the one hand, we agree: we’ve yet to see anything involving Kate Upton that wouldn’t fit comfortably in the “blatant objectification of women” category. At the same time, this teaser clip also makes guys look really dumb. We’d even argue that the whole stunt threatens to cheapen a brand known for making ridiculously expensive cars.

The Wall Street Journal asks whether the spot is too sexy or too boring, but it’s neither–it’s just tacky. Of course this is an unusual branding strategy for a “luxury” name like Mercedes, but the price of the new model is lower than usual, so it seems like the company is trying to expand upon its key “rich people” demographic.

Will the campaign inspire people who can’t really afford a Mercedes to want one? Maybe. But how is that a good thing?