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Mercedes-Benz Rides Twitter to Super Bowl

  |  February 2, 2011   |  Comments

First-time Super Bowl advertiser employs "Tweet Race" campaign to capture big game interest.

tweetrace2Mercedes-Benz's seven-week Super Bowl campaign on Twitter is approaching the final lap and tweeting towards the finish line. Dubbed "Tweet Race," the effort was designed to create momentum for the German carmaker’s first-ever Super Bowl ad on Feb. 6.

Stephen Cannon, VP of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA in Montvale, NJ, told ClickZ his brand would advertise four new car models in two commercials during the Super Bowl telecast, with one appearing as an in-game :60 spot and another during the pre-game show. He said the Super Bowl is a good opportunity to show Mercedes-Benz's commitment to social media marketing.

"'Tweet Race' represents a strategic leap of faith into social media," Cannon said. "You have to do it by participating. I can't sit on the sidelines and read white papers. That was the insight that drove us to focusing resources, dollars, and effort [on social marketing]."

How The Race Will Be Run

Mercedes-Benz announced "Tweet Race" in mid-December, and the main activity kicks off today as four two-person driving teams take off for the Dallas, TX, metroplex, the site of Sunday's big game. Each team will commandeer a current Mercedes-Benz model and leave from either New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Tampa.

With their identities revealed on Jan. 13, the driving teams have since been recruiting Twitter followers, who can help them win the so-called race and a grand prize of a Mercedes-Benz 2012 C-Class Coupe. To help rally online support, each team has the help of a Twitter-savvy celebrity coach - either tennis star Serena Williams, rock singer Pete Wentz, baseball player Nick Swisher, or hip-hop artist Rev Run - who are also raising funds for charities in the process.

So far, the driving teams have collectively attracted 13,000 followers. They were enticed to join a team's effort by offering them the chance to win a trip for two to a Mercedes-Benz sponsored event, either the U.S. Open tennis championship, Fashion Week, or golf's PGA Championship.

During their journey to Texas, the driving teams will generate as many tweets and re-tweets, or "tweet fuel," as possible. They can also earn points/"tweet fuel" through a series of established road challenges. They include "Meet the Family, " where the teams tweet photographs of other Mercedes-Benz vehicles spotted on the road, and "America's Game," where they snap photos of themselves in front of high school, college, or pro football stadiums. The team that reaches the finish line with the most points/"tweet fuel" will be declared winner.

Twitter And Facebook Ads Drive "Tweet Race"

Digital agency Razorfish is spearheading the campaign, which has involved a healthy dose of Twitter ads. These have included a Promoted Trend and Promoted Tweet buy on Jan. 24, as well as Promoted Accounts "Who to follow" placements that have run non-stop since mid-December.

Mercedes-Benz's dedicated Twitter handle for the effort, @MBtweetraceHQ, launched Dec. 13 and has 64,000 followers. Frederic Bonn, executive creative director at Seattle-based Razorfish, said his team plans on changing the handle to @MBUSA_News after the campaign, bringing the followers with it. Twitter allows brands to make that move. "That's the idea," he said. "Obviously, we want to be very honest about it and be very [transparent] about what we are doing."

Facebook ads will continue through the weekend. Those ads push viewers to Mercedes-Benz's page on the social site, where they have to "like" the brand before learning more about "Tweet Race."

Facebook users can monitor the drivers' performance over the next two days. "We have increased from around 12,000 'likes' to 82,000 'likes,'" Bonn added.

Also, the carmaker has purchased display ads on undisclosed networks and via direct buys at AutoBlog.com and Jalopnik.com. According to Cannon, the campaign's videos (see one below) have been viewed more than 400,000 times on YouTube. He said his marketing team looks forward to leveraging the "Tweet Race's" results for future interactive campaigns.

"We are pretty confident we will be able to hold onto a lot of the folks whose interest we have spent the last several weeks elevating," he said.

Update: Story has been updated to more accurately state MB's post-Super Bowl plans for its "Tweet Race" Twitter account.

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Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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