Mercedes-Benz came to the Cimaglia team for help with one specific vehicle: the Sprinter, a full-sized commercial van that competes alongside American counterparts such as Ford, GMC, Chevrolet and Dodge. What set the Sprinter apart was its diesel-fuel engine and luxury-brand name, but Mercedes-Benz decided to add one more distinct qualifier—they were going to make the Sprinter a 4×4 vehicle, embrace a more rugged market and expand its market share.
The Problem: The Product’s Range isn’t Well Known
With a market share of less than 10 percent, the Sprinter is a niche product in the commercial full-size van market. Even though it was designed to be upfitted any number of ways (which, in Europe, it is), in the United States, the vehicle has proven especially popular only among delivery businesses. The vehicle was being constrained—not by reality, but by reputation. MBUSA wanted a concept strategy to showcase the Sprinter’s diversity and range while generating reusable content and reaching new leads outside the commercial industry.
Our Solution: Let Businesses Pave the Way
We spearheaded a partnership with Fast Company to launch a three-month-long nationwide contest. Business managers would submit a proposal for their own customized Sprinters, detailing how they would use it to literally and proverbially “drive their business forward.” The winner would receive a free Sprinter, upfitted exactly how they wanted it. The campaign was so successful that we brought it back for three consecutive years, each time snowballing the previous year’s success into a bigger, broader audience. The Cimaglia team created the full portfolio of creative for the campaign, which ran across MBUSA’s social channels, as well as in print and digital ads. After Fast Company chose a contest winner, we filmed the handover ceremony and documented the process of auto designers upfitting and customizing the van to match the winner’s specs. MBUSA wound up using this footage for years to come over social media, particularly when catching up with the winner to see how they really did grow their business with the help of Mercedes-Benz.
The Problem: Shift the Sprinter Away from Mercedes’s Premium Perception
The MBUSA team wanted a communications strategy that would highlight the new all-terrain capabilities of the Sprinter 4×4, shifting public perception away from its premium branding. They wanted something that would cover all Mercedes-Benz platforms, including social media, press releases, industry events, CRM, POS and digital advertising, with a lifespan ranging from the announcement to the vehicle’s market introduction.
Our Solution: A National Contest, and a Sprint Through the Sahara
To drum up genuine excitement over a long span of time, the Cimaglia team worked with MBUSA to craft a campaign that highlighted the new Sprinter’s position in an all-female rally through the Moroccan desert. The race—the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles—forces drivers to use only paper maps and a compass to navigate across the sand. We edited a final promo video for the campaign and provided special creative counsel the whole way through.