Mercedes-Benz South Africa brought the M-Guard into the country late 2014. The Guard range are armoured
vehicles made by Mercedes-Benz globally. These cars come with varying protection levels and all the protection is built in the vehicle, no after-market fitting whatsoever.
This helps us to position the M-Guard as the ultimate armoured vehicle, coupled with all of the safety, quality and luxury that consumers expect from the brand. The sales targets were manageable but our job was to reposition the vehicle to the market and find the potential customers online.
The M-Guard model is extremely expensive, in the region of 1 million ZAR. Hijacking and other vehicle related crime is rife in SA, so Mercedes-Benz could not play too much in the tactical space with this due to those sensitivities. We considered some aggressive related content ads around hijacks, gun violence and police corruption but this risked associating the brand to negative conversations about the country. We would also be at risk of coming across as light-hearted on the topic of violent, deadly crime in the country.
South Africans, especially those living in Johannesburg (the business and wealth hub), live with constant
stress around defence, protection of their vehicle, their family and themselves. We do not simply drive home from work. We drive home and ensure we are not being followed, we ensure there is always enough space around
our car for a quick getaway if we are ambushed, we make sure we are vigilant at intersections, and we never get out of our car for the police. In a country where even a police service branded vehicle can contain armed criminals, we needed to bring back piece of mind, not build on the fear.
We utilised a new offering in the local market, the Google Lightbox Engagement Unit. This ad unit allowed us to build out a detailed engagement offering with information about the protection levels and the features of the vehicle. This lightbox allowed us to have microsite-like engagement without taking the user off the content they were consuming. This also offered a clean and simple call to action, supported on the dealer side with expert sales people, to find out more and enquire about purchasing a Guard car.
Within the space of the lightbox, we were able to tease the customer in an emotional space with the tagline and
the vehicle's imagery before allowing them to expand the unit and engage further. We covered all the detail on the features of the car post-expansion to ensure that the brand was never an annoyance to those not interested in the offering. The lightbox covered the reinforced run flat tyres, special glass, seamless protection and the reinforced suspension one at a time, allowing the user to consume one piece of content at a time so they were not overwhelmed with details. We also included some quick facts such as top speed and fuel consumption as a permanently present info block across all content pieces.
We then targeted this ad unit to positive stories about the country, government and road safety. We also targeted high LSM parents in the Johannesburg high-wealth areas where the rate of armed hijacking is the highest.