Mercedes-Benz rips a page from BMW's playbook to reach millennials

The automaker entertains through loosely connected short films in the Grow Up series.

Millennials are often accused of a having Peter Pan syndrome, that they’re simply walking, talking adult-children. Why don’t they just grow up already? And more importantly, isn’t it time for them to buy a real, adult car that costs upwards of $32,000? Mercedes-Benz, along with many other car manufacturers, hopes so.

On Monday, the German car company launched a five-part short-film series that explores the challenges of becoming an adult with A$AP Rocky and actress Lucy Walters, who plays a waitress on the Starz series Power. The campaign, titled Grow up, includes the stories of a father who quits his job after 35 years, two friends who’ve grown apart, and a boyfriend whose obsession with his ex borders on stalking. Of course, all this drama unfolds inside Mercedes-Benz compact cars.

"We are reinterpreting traditional values and attitudes towards Mercedes while showcasing their modern-day interpretation and relevance within Generations X and Y," said Jens Thiemer, Phd and VP of marketing at Mercedes-Benz Cars, in a press release.

The series, featuring videos two to-four minutes in length created by Berlin-based agency Antoni, is intended to be "an unconventional campaign" that "does not immediately come across as advertising," much like BMW Films, which released a spot late last year.  

Creating non-traditional advertising is a critical part of Mercedes-Benz’s new marketing strategy. The brand recently hired content agency Looping Studios to aid its fledging in-house content studio.

Content marketing becomes paramount and will beat advertising," Thiemer told Marketing Week in January. He added that the company will continue to build "a network of high-caliber service providers working exclusively for our brand," a customized agency which Thiemer sees "as one of the key factors to future success in marketing."

The films will be released digitally through a website built by Publicis agency Pixelpark AG and the Vice content network with plans for television placement later in the year. However, U.S. ad buys are still in development, as Mercedes-Benz spokesperson Ina Schultz said some of the cars featured are not available in America.  

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