VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Mercedes-Benz USA Inc., seeking buyers in their 30s for the redesigned C-class sedan, will turn to online chats and more women-oriented magazines to promote the car in the USA.
Mercedes is attempting to look youthful, sporty and fun to attract new buyers, yet not turn away current owners. The company expects first-time Mercedes buyers to account for half the sales of the redesigned C-class in the USA, compared with about 40 percent for the current C-class. The company also seeks more female buyers. Half of all C-class buyers now are women.
Mercedes is moving the target for the C-class from people in their late 40s to those in their 30s.
'This is not a huge shift in our positioning,' said Karen Makris, product manager for the C-, E- and S-classes. The C240 model will be marketed for its value and styling, she said, and the C320 will be considered the luxury buy with refined power.
The C240 and C320, which went on sale in the USA on September 11, get the C-class's first tag line, 'C New,' accompanied by the slogan, 'Live a lot.'
The campaign is running on national cable and network television and in national magazines and newspapers. It was be launched during the NBC network's broadcast of the Olympics, which started September 15, but will not begin in earnest until early October, after dealers have fulfilled advance orders.
Mercedes' advertising agency, Merkley Newman Harty in New York, created three television commercials, which continue Mercedes' use of humor and focus on consumer lifestyle rather than the product's qualities.
In one commercial, a somber man is told by his doctor that he has only 40 years or so to live, that he better do everything he wants to do now, said Andrew Shaffer, product specialist for the C-class. This news leads the man to 'Live a lot' with his new C-class sedan.
Another commercial shows the surprise of a person, a dog and various inanimate objects when they see the new C-class drive by, Shaffer said. Through animation, their eyes pop out of their head.
Mercedes will advertise in more women's magazines because women's buying and decision-making power in the household continues to increase, said Paul Halata, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.
An online chat will take place this month with Makris and Shaffer at the C-class site, www.thenewc.mbusa.com, which was launched in May. Mercedes has collected 50,000 online registrations for information about the vehicle, and it will send e-mails to those people inviting them to the chat.
Mercedes plans to sell 40,000 new C-class models in the USA next year. It sold 18,392 units of the current C-class in the first seven months of this year in the USA, compared with 17,963 in the same period of last year.