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Mercedes strengthens sports ties through multichannel Roger Federer campaign

August 17, 2012


German automaker Mercedes-Benz is strengthening its tennis sponsorships through a new television, social media, event and print campaign starring 2012 Wimbledon Champion Roger Federer and the 2013 GL-Class.

The multichannel campaign entitled “Many Rogers” is launching in time for the 2012 US Open Aug. 27-Sept. 9 in Flushing, NY. Swiss-born Mr. Federer has been a global brand ambassador for Mercedes since 2010 and an ambassador for Mercedes-Benz China since 2008.

"Roger Federer, beyond being arguably the best tennis player of all time, is a true class act on and off the court," said Elias Friedman, analyst at Siegel+Gale, New York. "Unlike some other top athletes, Roger has not marred his reputation with personal  drama or athletic controversy.

"Mr. Federer's brand is as pristine and timeless as his game and it is no surprise brands such as Mercedes and Rolex have adopted him as a brand ambassador," he said. "In addition to sharing characteristics of elegance, precision and greatness, Roger, winning his 7th Wimbledon title at the age of 30 and regaining his No. 1 ranking, has proven his dominance to be lasting as well, something Mercedes certainly wishes to associate with their line of luxury cars."

Mr. Friedman is not affiliated with Mercedes, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Mercedes could not comment before press deadline.

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The Many Rogers campaign uses self-effacing humor while following the tennis star through the roles of his busy life including World Class Athlete, International Celebrity, Tennis Idol and Dad.

The TV spot will make its broadcast debut Aug. 27 on CBS for the duration of the US Open. It will also run on ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel.

A preview of the commercial dropped on the Roger Federer Facebook page yesterday.

The GL is a “full-sized, seven-passenger Mercedes to fit your many lifestyles,” the commercial says.

Many Rogers preview video

Mercedes’ print campaign will launch at the end of August. It features a four-color execution and reads, “Proud holder of 16 Majors, 74 Singles Titles and twin daughters.”

The title was chosen by Roger Federer Facebook fans during a contest that ran in June, according to Mercedes.

The piece will run in The New York Times, USA Today, Tennis Magazine and the US Open tournament program.

"Print advertising remains important as it can complement a broader media advertising campaign," said Tiffany Dowd, a Boston-based luxury hotel inspector and president of Luxe Social Media. "It reinforces the exact message a brand wishes to convey through lasting images."

There will be multiple behind-the-scenes elements including a posting of a “behind-the-scenes” making of the TV commercial, tournament updates and GL vehicle footage. These will be posted on both Mr. Federer and MBUSA Facebook pages.

Mercedes is also planning several fan experiences at the US Open including a display of the concept-style coupe. This experience will be accompanied by a Photo Station at the Mercedes-Benz Brand Center located at the USTA Tennis Center.

Mercedes’ agreement with the US Open began in 2010 and is set to go through 2014. It includes an on-site presence throughout the tournament, national TV media commitments and extensive presences on, according to the brand.

"Television ratings for tennis have never been better due in large part to Roger Federer’s loyal fan base," Ms. Dowd said. "Mercedes-Benz can capitalize on this opportunity to connect with this faithful following."

The German automaker also has a number of other sports sponsorships.

For example, it built awareness through product placement and sponsorship at the 73rd Senior PGA Championship by allowing consumers to hone their golf skills while engaging with interactive brand experiences.

The Mercedes-Benz Performance Center May 22-27 hosted a select group of advanced golf-teaching tools that allowed consumers to test, hone and improve their skills. Mercedes also had cars at the event to increase awareness and enhance interactivity with attendees (see story).

However, Mercedes is hardly the only automaker to make ties between sports, cars and the affluent lifestyle.

For example, German automaker BMW used its sponsorship of the BMW ClubCorp Best Ball Challenge as an opportunity to offer test drives and build brand awareness. It had exclusive access to an audience with household incomes of approximately $256,000 and was able to position its vehicles and products at the forefront of their minds (see story).

Also, Lexus’ online campaign for the US Open tournament that included digital advertisements and a virtual golf game was expected to see more than 100 million impressions and 100 million social media ad impressions, according to the game organizers (see story).

Mr. Federer’s excellence in his chosen field and the fact that he is a true Mercedes fan is why he was chosen for brand ambassador, according to the brand.

"Finding a celebrity or athlete sponsor that both aligns closely to your brand's purpose is not easy," Siegel+Gale's Mr. Friedman said. "Roger Federer possesses a unique combination of style, grace and flair that many brands simply can't live up to.

"It's something that, when appropriate and executed properly, can solidify current perceptions and potentially launch your brand image to the next level," he said.

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York