Mercedes-Benz focuses on Bertha Benz in epic new ad

Mercedes-Benz has gone full-on period drama in its new ad, a four-minute long film that tells the tale of how Bertha Benz took the first long-distance journey in an automobile

Titled The Journey That Changed Everything, the cinematic ad marks what would have been Benz’s 170th birthday by chronicling her test drive of her husband Carl’s invention in 1888.

Benz embarked on the almost 100km journey in the vehicle with her two sons, Eugen and Richard, in part to draw the attention of the public, which at the time was still deeply suspicious of the new ‘horseless carriages’. As the ad chronicles, as a woman driver, Benz also drew plenty of attention herself.

Released to coincide with International Women’s Day, the ad is as much an examination of a powerful woman from the past as a story of the evolution of Mercedes-Benz. The spot makes much of Benz’s femininity, showing her forced to enter a male-only bar to get the required fuel for the car, and also using her hatpin and garter as tools to help get the vehicle started.

We’re now familiar with the female empowerment genre of advertising, and the ‘inspirational’ element of this spot feels a touch heavy handed at times, but what sets it apart is the sector it sits in. Car advertising is still enormously male dominated – both in those cast in the ads and in the intended audience – so it feels refreshing to see an ad from a car brand that celebrates women. Considering that women are now buying more cars than men, this is an approach that is long overdue.

Agency: antoni_garage
ECD: Marcell Francke, Tilman Gossner, Veit Moeller
Creative Director: Alice Bottaro
Creative Director Digital: Juliane Krause-Akelbein
Production Company: Anorak Film
Director: Sebastian Strasser