Mercedes touts diesel in E320 comms drive

MONTVALE, NJ: Over the next few months, Mercedes-Benz will be running a major PR initiative to promote its new E320 sedan and the new Bluetec common-rail diesel powertrain under its hood.

MONTVALE, NJ: Over the next few months, Mercedes-Benz will be running a major PR initiative to promote its new E320 sedan and the new Bluetec common-rail diesel powertrain under its hood.

The effort, supported by Porter Novelli, includes media outreach beyond auto-enthusiast publications, the usual target for technology-focused stories, as well as events and media placement.

Geoff Day, director of communications at Mercedes, said the goal of the effort is to tout the performance and fuel-economy benefits of diesel, while correcting outdated ideas Americans have of diesel - an aftertaste from post-embargo forays into diesel by domestic automakers.

"Diesel was not the refined technology it is today," noted Day. "There are memories of a certain smell and the 'clank, clank, clank' of the engine. We'll promote the tangible benefits while recasting diesel in a way that shows why now is the right time for this type of car."

He said Mercedes will conduct very targeted messages for a range of media outlets, far broader than the usual auto-enthusiast "buff books" like Road & Track.

"On the business side, it's about diesel and its impact on the economy," Day said. "On the product side, there's exposure and experience."

For the latter, Day said Mercedes will launch a raft of test-drive and experiential events for the press and consumers.

"We'll put the cars out for road tests and in broadcast slots," Day said. One example might be "planned stories about how you can drive from New York to Chicago on one tank of fuel."

Day added that the company is also pondering buzz-generating exercises, like racing an E320 Bluetec against a Lamborghini from New York to Chicago.

"If I was going to wind it up into one theme, our overall PR tone is about the benefits of ownership," he said. Mercedes will also introduce diesel versions of its SUVs at the end of this year.

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