This marks the first time that Mercedes-Benz USA will advertise the R-Class on TV, according to Steve Cannon, vice president of marketing. The carmaker will actually use up to 15% of its summer/fall advertising budget to promote the crossover. The spots for the R class, which has been revamped for the 2011 model year, will run from August through October.
Cannon didn't provide exact spending figures. The crossover has been slow to sell and this facelift might just be the carmaker's last effort to improve sales. Cannon said that since the crossover's debut in the fall of 2005, Mercedes has promoted it only with brochures and limited online exposure.
This model has never been able to reach its original sales target of over 20,000 vehicles annually. US sales of the R class had peaked at 18,168 units in 2006 but by 2009, sales had dropped to 2,825 units. From January to May of this year, only 1,223 had been sold.
With regards to the revamped model, Cannon says that the company expects a double-digit percentage over today's relatively low levels. If you watch Grey's Anatomy," "CSI" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," you will likely see the TV spots.
These spots will also appear on cable news and selected sport events. Mercedes has an atypical approach to the ads and will buy two 15-second spots, with one running at the start of a commercial break and the other at the end. These commercials will use Mercedes' new global tag line, "The Best or Nothing." He admitted that the vehicle had been targeted at the wrong audience: empty nesters instead of young families.
Cannon said that potential buyers got confused about whether the R class was a minivan or a roomy car. US executives pushed for the restyling that gives the R class a more SUV-like front end like Mercedes' other light trucks. A total of $100 million was spent on exterior changes and interior upgrades. The new version will be offered only with six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. [via autonews - sub. required]