On February 6, 2011, Mercedes-Benz USA, a long-term client of ours, became a first-time Super Bowl advertiser, when a 60-second spot starring P. Diddy and a snippet of a Janis Joplin song aired in the fourth quarter of the Green Bay Packers–Pittsburgh Steelers nail-biter. The point of the ad was to celebrate Mercedes’ 125-year heritage and its action featured all the Mercedes of the world coming together to greet a new model. It was an amazing moment for a great brand, but those 60 seconds weren’t the full extent of the Mercedes presence in the big game—far from it. In recent years, big-brand marketers have learned that if they want to get their money’s worth from the Super Bowl—a shade under $3 million for 30 seconds and rising—then they had better create a robust program that created interest in the run-up to the big game.
To that end, Mercedes’ Super Bowl campaign officially kicked off months before with a very different type of marketing idea, one that eschewed celebrities for ordinary Joes, one that activated Mercedes’ fan base to build excitement around the brand and the big game. In early December, we told the world we were looking for a few good drivers who had passion for both Mercedes and social media and asked anyone who fit the bill to apply on the Mercedes Facebook page. The winners of a video contest would get a chance to compete in a very unique kind of competition: a Tweet Race. Using four specially equipped Mercedes, the driving teams would ...