Text100 helps Mercedes-Benz R&D wing tell its own story

The Next Fifteen agency is helping Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America explain what it does and stands for in Silicon Valley.

SUNNYVALE, CA: Luxury auto brand Mercedes-Benz needs no introduction, but that’s not the case for its North American R&D wing.

Since it was hired as Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America’s first AOR in February, Text100 has been helping the organization "build out and shine a light on" its work on connected, autonomous, shared, and electric cars, said Erin Smith, VP of global comms at the firm.

The company focuses on autonomous driving, advanced interaction design, digital user experience, machine learning, customer research, and business innovation, but it struggles to explain that in Silicon Valley, where it is headquartered, she explained.

"We help them with recruiting efforts, and people still think they are going to a car dealership when they go for an interview with the company," Smith said. "[The company] identifies itself much more with being a technology company; they are trying to hire developers and engineers."

Text100 is helping to solve this identity crisis by asking senior leaders who run the company’s R&D divisions questions like, "What do you stand for?" and "What is your tagline for the company?"

"It is about building that perception of Mercedes in the Valley so people know it is an incredible technology company to work for," said Smith. "We are working with executives to define that. That will come to fruition in the next month or so."

The agency is developing an integrated marcomms program that includes relationships with Silicon Valley media and influencers, social media support, digital content creation, and web design and development. Text100 is also collaborating with PR teams that work for Mercedes’ other divisions or parent company Daimler on global announcements.

"The website redesign is a big one," said Smith. "Once we get that in place, it will affect our content strategy. We want to drive people to the new website."

Text100 is also working on internal communications. In February, the firm put together the organization’s first monthly newsletter for Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America’s staffers. Its goal is to make employees aware of what is happening in other facilities, Smith explained.

Text100 began working with the company as AOR in February. However, its relationship with the organization dates back to last summer, when the firm was referred by client Here Technologies, which specializes in mapping data, for a project.

"At that point, we were just handling a handful of blogs here and there for them," said Smith.

At the end of last year, Smith and her team put together a three-part proposal for how Text100 would build the company’s website, take over social and content, and handle Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America’s PR. Smith, based in San Francisco, is leading a team of 10 on the account. Budget information was not disclosed.

Reps from Mercedes-Benz declined to comment.

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