Ad Nut
Jan 31, 2019

Mercedes Benz wishes you an (in)authentic CNY

Publicis Emil's latest CNY campaign for Southeast Asia needs a lesson in casting genuine holiday wishes.

The last time Ad Nut reviewed a series of 'authentic' video advertisements from Mercedes Benz out of Malaysia featuring real people instead of celebrity actors, this squirrel was speechless at first. 

Which was fine, since social media delivered all the real, raw, authenticity in the form of feedback, like "Thank you for destroying the impression of class and prestige that I've always had of Merz," and "I've seen porn with better actors and actresses than this, time to up your game, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia."

Fortunately, Publicis and the luxury car company's marketing team have learned a hard lesson. So they decided to use not everyday Malaysians but celebrities or well-known figures in their latest CNY effort for Southeast Asia, a series of 32 videos entitled “There’s A Million Things We Love About Chinese New Year”.

Unfortunately there's a million things Ad Nut doesn't love about this campaign, following through from its premise. The campaign press release tells us "Mercedes decided to move away from the obvious Chinese New Year clichés and to focus on very personal, authentic and often unique ways people celebrate their Chinese New Year."

Cutting the clichés is rarely a bad idea. Putting a pig behind the wheel of a Mercedes, for instance might actually be a relatable image for many Chinese Malaysians as the Year of the Pig begins, but it's less likely to resonate with the very consumers the car brand wants to attract.

Far better to feature celebrities like fashion mogul Jimmy Choo, star squash player Nicol David and actors Dato Faridah and Joe Hasham sharing their own special CNY memories. 

“Creating authentic moments that make Chinese New Year special was the approach this year," said Dean Bramham, market acceleration lead for Publicis Emil Southeast Asia, in a release. 

Except the moments don't seem authentic or heartfelt. Instead, they feel like like celebrities were put in front of a white screen and told to brainstorm any associations they could make with CNY, no matter how random. It appears that whoever was directing was satisfied with whatever answers were given and had no patience for eliciting the stories and emotion that would make it work. So Jimmy Choo launches into a nationalistic rant about Malaysia that sounds more like a government PSA than warm feelings for his home country. Then the celebrities are handed oranges to play with or pose for the camera in sunglasses.

About the only thing really authentic here is the shabby looking purple couch that makes an appearance in the Faridah & Hasham video. And much like the ill-fated campaign from two years ago, it fits the prestige of Mercedes like a hog in a Maybach. 

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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