Branded Content Isn’t Rocket Science — or Is It?
Mercedes-Benz is one of the most visible brands in the social media sphere and the most successful automotive brand worldwide. Brand recognition is not something to worry about, but the brand with the star is still perceived as very „masculine“ compared to its competitors like BMW and Audi. To change this, Daimler started She’s Mercedes in September 2015. The idea behind the initiative was to specifically address the new female audience and to bring the needs of women even more sharply into focus. Kerstin Heiligenstetter, Head of She’s Mercedes, elaborates: „Our aim is to respond in a holistic manner to the wishes and needs of women — from sales to communications to services. In the coming years, our aim is to establish Mercedes-Benz as the most attractive premium car brand in the world for women and to significantly increase the proportion of female customers.“
To reach this ambitious goal, part of Daimler’s communication strategy is to create branded content: content that carries a consumer benefit, serves the brand, and is presented in an authentic environment. For She’s Mercedes, the content, itself, has to help make the initiative internationally known, prove its relevance, and speak to new and hard-to-reach female audiences that haven’t been in touch with Mercedes-Benz before.
And branded content is a good investment when done right: When a consumer watches branded content, their brand recall is up to 59% higher than it is with display ads. Viewers are also 14% more likely to seek out extra content from the same brand. Not a bad ROI, but one that requires very specific skills. For She’s Mercedes, the task is to attract a new audience — and hopefully a new customer base — that’s not yet connected with the brand. Therefore, the content has to be where these potential buyers already hang out online: on today’s most prestigious online magazines for thought leaders and trendsetters. This also means She’s Mercedes content has to live up to the same editorial content standards as major media outlets.
With content production that works within the context of fashion, design, and lifestyle-related media outlets such as Nowness and Dazed, She’s Mercedes has to deliver on credibility. This is crucial for the success of branded content: „Credibility is critical — and style counts“. The majority of consumers […] put credibility at the top of the list of must-haves for branded content. Tone and style are also important (just as they are with non-branded editorial and entertainment content), confirms the Boston Consulting Group.
It’s essential to identify relevant topics that speak to the brand’s values and to the media partners’ existing audience. Add a dedicated creative team for each production and a carefully planned publishing strategy in collaboration with strong media outlets, and you have the cornerstones for She’s Mercedes’ successful branded content.
Our productions at neulandherzer always have to answer the following core questions: Would I share this? Would I use it? Do I have a great time with it?
Here are three examples of branded content that we produced for She’s Mercedes keeping these criteria in mind:
1. „The Female Bond“ with Malaysian recording artist Yuna (2017, Los Angeles)
Topic: A poetic narrative, celebrating female unity and friendship for International Women’s Day.
2. „Honey & Dirt“ with model and body-positivity-activist Paloma Elsesser (2018, Canary Islands)
Topic: The visual poem explores the dialectic forces of female strength and vulnerability as sources of personal growth and finding one’s own path.
3. „My Chosen Family“ with visual artist Leena Al Ghouti (2019, Dubai)
Topic: A short film about the meaning of home and community, providing an intimate glimpse into the identity, aesthetic, and creative expression of Dubai’s millennial generation.