- Mercedes-Benz released an augmented reality (AR) filter on image-sharing app Instagram — reportedly the first for a carmaker, the company said in an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer. The AR filter was inspired by a short film that Mercedes created for its new CLA Coupe, an entry-level car targeting millennials.
- Instagram users who follow the @mercedesbenz account can select AR filters to decorate their pictures with computer-generated visuals that are inspired by the neon lights of Tokyo, as seen in a short film that accompanies the campaign.
- The five-minute film, which Mercedes released on its YouTube channel, tells the story of a young man who wakes up to find he's being trailed by a hipper, teenage version of himself. They spend the day together and take a drive in the sporty coupe before the teenager disappears and the movie ends with the slogan: "Play by your rules." The final scene shows a young woman waking up to have a similar experience with her teenage self.
Mercedes-Benz's AR filter and short film aim to hone in on millennial car-buyers in the market for the 2019 CLA Coupe. Instagram and YouTube are key marketing platforms for brands seeking to reach younger, tech-savvy adults who are more likely to rely on their smartphones for entertainment over traditional channels with TV or billboards. The short film aims to capture the experience of millennials who are taking on more adult responsibilities while still feeling the tug of their teenage aspirations and creative pursuits, like playing drums in a grunge-rock band, as seen in the brand's film.
By demonstrating how owning a car can be a key part of self-expression and independence, the carmaker aims to appeal to millennials who aren't buying cars at the same rate as older generations did. The growth in ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft has led to speculation that "car cutting" will be as disruptive to the automotive industry as "cord cutting" is to cable and satellite TV, but owning a car is still less expensive than being entirely dependent on ride-hailing, according to AAA. These trends are forcing car brands to explore creative ways to market their models and connect with consumers on deeper levels.
This isn't the first time Mercedes has embraced short films to tell a more complete brand story on platforms like YouTube and IGTV, the video app that Instagram started last year. The company celebrated the 130th anniversary of the first long-distance drive with a short film on IGTV.
Mercedes also has been active on social media in a variety of countries in the past year. Mercedes-Benz Brazil last fall promoted its C-Class line of mid-sized sedans with a social media campaign encouraging amateur athletes to break new records in swimming, running and cycling. The carmaker also promoted its A-Class sedan in the U.S. with a contest that urged Instagram users to share their bucket lists on the image-sharing app.