Does Mercedes Benz Need ‘Sympathy?’

Even if you weren’t paying attention to NFL football on Jan. 20, if you had the game on, Merkley + Partners’  TV spot for long-time client Mercedes Benz likely made your head snap to attention.


In what is being called a teaser for the automaker’s Super Bowl spot in February, the ad plays the Rolling Stones’ song “Sympathy for the Devil.”  Although the spot is beautifully produced and has a perfectly suspenseful set-up, the use of that song is curious to say the least.  A rock ‘n’ roll classic, yes, but a lighthearted little ditty? Absolutely not. And how could it be when “Lucifer” is the first-person narrator?

Why would Mercedes Benz or any brand want to be associated with the following imagery?

I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank 

Or this:

I shouted out,
Who killed the Kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me

None of those lyrics actually plays in the Mercedes spot but consumers can finish the song in their heads once Mick Jagger’s familiar yowl is heard at the beginning of the song.

In an eerily prescient article back in November, Brenda Fiala, SVP, Strategy at Blast Radius, wrote in Mediapost about how the Rolling Stones “brand” has become downright respectable now that they’ve been a band for 50 years. “Let’s face it: The Rolling Stones aren’t just a band, they’re a brand in the same pantheon as Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz and Chanel.”

The question is, how respectable is Mercedes Benz now that it has appropriated one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most notorious songs?

Posted on January 22, 2013, in The Hit Board and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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