Mercedes-Benz smartly avoids clichés to deliver a charming, relevant message
Mercedes-Benz smartly avoids clich├ęs to deliver a charming, relevant message
A view from Richard Alford, managing director at M&C Saatchi

Mercedes-Benz's daring 'Dancing hens' ad recalls the true meaning of 'earned' media

It is a rare and exciting pleasure to review a piece of creative work that is good. One that is strategically rigorous; single-minded and creatively...

When asked to tell a story about Intelligent Body Control for a car, it is both a brave client and a confident agency that would ditch any car-driving/potholes/actual demonstration shots, and instead replace them with chickens; but that's why it works. Because we all know that the videos people seek out on YouTube and don't watch at x30 in commercial breaks are the ones that earn your attention.

"Earned media" is a well-used term, but this execution reminds us that it is creativity that drives consumers to opt-in to your messages. Mercedes has earned 10m extra views on YouTube by being daring and creative.

By avoiding anything that is remotely literal and instead flattering the intelligence of the audience, Mercedes has created something extremely powerful.

It is also the job of advertising to add more to a message than a literal demonstration would - because, be under no illusion, this is a demonstration of the product. It's just a lateral and offbeat way of telling the story that, in so doing, makes it more interesting and shareable than a car-based demo ever could.

By avoiding anything that is remotely literal and instead flattering the intelligence of the audience, Mercedes has created something extremely powerful. Then there's the question of the chickens. Chickens have to be the most unglamorous animals around. No cliched, lithe muscularity here. Instead, the ad reveals something that I didn't know before, namely that chickens are a lot cleverer than you'd think.

Incredibly, their heads remain stable as their bodies move. God knows why - probably to do with being able to escape from predators - but, whatever the reason, their use in this advertising is charming yet relevant.

The ad smartly avoids the trap of "give me an animal, any animal", side-stepping the gratuitous "we want a thing" requests of the post-meerkat world. Instead we've been treated to a disciplined, straightforward demonstration of the fact that Mercedes' Intelligent Body Control will give you a smooth ride, even if the car is bumping along tricky surfaces. That's what I got out of it as well as a good dose of "brand for me" and "I never knew that".

It's a shame that the idea isn't continued on the website - but maybe that would be asking too much. It is, however, a reminder that a strong answer to a difficult and technical brief is best found by thinking hard about the problem, and being brutally simple in the execution.

Adwatch prompted advertising-awareness research was conducted by TNS as part of its twice-weekly OnLineBus omnibus among 1000 adults aged 16-64. For details of the survey, contact emma.dolby@tnsglobal.com (020 7656 5890). Ads were compiled by Ebiquity (020 7650 9700) and Mediaedge:cia UK (020 7803 2000).