May
20
2013

Mercedes Smart – Unexpected Test Drive

Mercedes Smart

Mercedes Smart

A friend in need is a friend Indeed sounds like old adage for sure, but still holds true. More and more brands are trying to be your friend, being there when you need them the most.

Case to point

Moscow, Russia, where people are obsessed about big cars and owning a small car is not socially appreciated. The result is nothing but escalating parking problem on one side and social status playing a seesaw battle. On most weekends, it goes from bad to worse leaving most people with no option but to park illegally, vehicles getting towed and people running after the authorities begging not to be reprimanded are often the best snapshots of life  on the ‘mean Russian streets’.

Big cars + Parking problem = Chaos + frustration.

Introduce Super Cars to the rescue

Following Chevrolet’s “Rescue Drive” and MINI’s “cars turned stores” intelligent test drive campaigns, Mercedes’ isn’t going to be left behind either. Making the people of Moscow understand the importance of smaller cars with their new Rescue Smart cars, Mercedes started an ‘Unexpected Test Drive’ and acted as a Superhero to the rescue for them. These smart and often labeled “Cute cars” comes to the rescue of people in their DIRE times of misery (when their vehicle got towed and they are left stranded and in a lurch) and drops them to their destination. This campaign drew out accolades on Social Media, followed by bloggers and news portals who further accentuated the brand’s positive move, and I can’t help but admire the ingenuity too.

The result

In less than 3 days, 623 people were rescued. Test drives increased by 10% and sales went up by 300% in just a matter of two weeks. Mercedes’ move created a positive brand image which reflected reliability, care and empathy for people and indirectly advocating the use of smaller cars (rescue cars) while showcasing that sometimes, small is beautiful in a big-car-obsessed country.

Indian case

Do you envision this kind of service in India? Will people actually appreciate the move and post their good experiences on Social Media? Will the companies want to shell out the big bucks for this kind of campaign where they want to be a viewed more as a friend and savior rather than just a car company?

The ever-growing traffic density and parking problems of our metros are indeed creating mess all around. So even though, small cars have the largest number of buyers, the growing number of cars and decreasing availability of space for parking is definitely of concern sprinkled with the hassles of cars getting towed every now and then. Are brands trying to tap on the positive side of life and helping people in achieving their dreams? As a result getting associated with good deeds for society and simultaneously push their brand image forward.

In my opinion, Indians do spread a word if they like something.  It’s been a long tradition that Indians are so close to even the shops where they buy grocery from, that they form an emotional bond – they talk to each other, and they suggest to their peers.

Cracking markets is a tedious job but cracking the mindset of customers…. Hell it would be tough! More and more brands are trying to be friendly and have that emotional connect with their customers, being there when they need them the most is in my opinion something that needs to be tapped.  Especially among  ladies and the growing graph of women car owners.

But what if you have to change customers thinking process and decide as to what they should buy. Personally no one likes radical change.

Some dissonance will be there for sure. Is that enough dissonance for you?

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About the Author:

Engineer turned dancer turned choreographer turned Business professional. Finally into design. Dancer/ choreographer at heart.

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