2011 Mercedes-Benz R-ClassEnlarge Photo
The other evening I was skimming through many of the useless, mindless, and crud-filled channels that my exorbitantly-priced cable package comes with, when I came across a movie channel I barely remembered I had. (Bare with me, here. Like a Simpsons episode, this is the preamble to the theme of the blog post.) Maybe because the network could get it for cheap and there were no good slasher flicks available, they had a rerun of Kevin Costner's only mildly annoying film Field Of Dreams.
And if you sat through that self-righteous film (or if you are literate and read the book--I am not and didn't), you know the famous line in that flick: "If you build it, he will come." And that tag line became the inspiration for many other jokes and more than a few cartoons and marketing campaigns. To put this into automotive terms, a great product will pull them into the showrooms, and they'll plunk down their hard-earned coins and dollar bills and leave with a smile and the dream they have purchased rolling status and internally combusted freedom.
So what does any of this have to do with the 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class? Everything, actually. Unlike the magical, mystical baseball field in the movie that pulled them for miles around just because it was there, Mercedes built the R-Class, but they didn't really come to buy it. It has really not been a sales success despite being a very competent cruiser. Sure, it's a well-engineered, stylish and sybaritic Swabian travelling tank with safety and technology out the tush. Not to mention six dozen cows' worth of buttery leather.
But the poor sales numbers are partially attributable to the fact that Mercedes just didn't market the thing. I mean it, they didn't spend much money promoting it. I am speculating here, but maybe Mercedes was relying on the massive egos and humongous bank accounts of the well-heeled R-Class owners who were going to pump it at their exclusive health clubs to their friends. And he would tell two friends to buy an R-Class, and so on, and so on...
But as I read in Automotive News, Mercedes is actually spending real money to advertise the R-Class for the very first time, and on TV no less. That's probably because the target demographic is slightly more aged and spends less time on the web--my web-savvy, under-45, R-Class-owning cousin notwithstanding, of course.
What an amazing concept--spending money to promote sales of a vehicle. These sly Swabians, I tell you, they might be on to something.
[Automotive News, sub req'd]