2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 HybridEnlarge Photo
Hyundai was the big kahuna sponsoring last night's Oscar broadcast, but in a shocking upset, Mercedes may have walked off with the trophy for best performance by an automaker. Sure, the ad announcing the debut of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid was bland, and it didn't say much of anything about the car, but it showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mercedes knows its target market like the back of its hand.
Most of the 30-second spot -- 25 seconds, in fact -- is dedicated to rehashing Mercedes' green credentials. It speaks of BlueTec vehicles like the 2010 R350. It mentions Mercedes' first production fuel-cell ride, the B-Class F-CELL. It features the new voice of Mercedes-Benz, Hollywood's current It-Guy, John Hamm, backed by a swelling, New Age-ish score. And of course, it features the S400 sitting under a tree in a meadow so pastoral it could pass for something out of Lord of the Rings, or possibly a travel brochure for New Zealand (which are, of course, the same thing).
As cloying as that may be, the "The Tree of Innovation" spot speaks directly to two types of consumers who always watch the Academy Awards broadcast: (a) film industry types, who typically love luxury products and green causes, and (b) movie fans, who often like to emulate their celebrity crushes. So, running a pretty, sparkly commercial for a luxurious hybrid vehicle during the Oscars is a lot like shooting fish in a barrel.
In sum: Mercedes fans were last night's big winners. GM fans? Not so much. If you happened to miss the broadcast, you'll find the spot below. Expect to see more of it on your TV very, very soon.