Nike VS Mercedes Benz – The case of capitalising one’s brand strengths

There are many, MANY, ways to categorise a ‘right and wrong’ scenario for advertising and branding; specifically, when it comes to brand strengths. In the case of Nike and Mercedes Benz, according to consumer branding and performance marketing veteran, Barry Enderwick, it’s clear-cut.

For the one-time Director of Global Marketing and Subscriber Acquisition at Netflix, during its scale-up, the executions are polar opposites. He starts by sharing in a no-holds barred opening how Mercedes Benz fell flat while Nike soared.

A few days ago I saw two brand ads on TV that, because of their proximity to each other, stood in stark contrast to one another. One, by Mercedes Benz, did their brand a massive disservice on many levels. The other, by Nike, not only bolstered but elevated the brand even further.

Barry Enderwick

The breakdown of the new video-spots, both recently appearing on YouTube, is a good example of a ‘do-and-don’t dossier’; specifically for brand strengths.

Mercedes Benz A-Class Blunder
Mercedes Benz 2019 A-Class

First, Mercedes Benz – the message is in-your-face yet in-direct. Weaved into the objective of promoting the all-new A-Class is a message that tries to be edgy. While the delivery succeeds, according to Barry, the video spot panders to the Milennial demographics. That is a bad move on Mercedes’ part as it tries to play to a younger audience. It also pinpoints to things that “people might find objectionable about the Mercedes Brand.

The edgy tone and dismissive points this commercial presents doesn’t translate well to the real thing; as is, the look and feel is still very much Mercedes Benz even if there are changes for the user experience. For Barry, the new car still suffers from many of the same design issues the commercial is railing against.

Nike Dream Crazier Scores
Nike Dream Crazier

Interestingly, Barry didn’t drill deep with Nike as it hits all the right notes when it comes to brand strengths. He correctly, if not directly, sums up what the Nike brand promise is:

If I had to guess, I would say that their brand promise is about helping people; [to] see that there is greatness in themselves. [This is] far beyond what they perceive.

Barry Enderwick

He believes Nike is doing right by its brand promise; from its first ‘Just Do It’ commercial and right up to the latest. In the new video spot – featuring multiple Tennis Grand Slam winner, Serena Williams, as narrator – Nike challenges the status quo. This includes highlighting all the sexism and issues women face in the world of sports. It then tells them they can be better than they ever thought possible.

For Barry, there’s a clear winner here on who does it best when it comes to representing the brand promise. Upon comparing Nike and Mercedes Benz latest commercials, he feels that this is a good reminder; specifically, on what not to do when it comes to building consumer aspiration.

Text by: Victor Yap

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