To launch its first ute in a category built on stereotypical toughness, Mercedes-Benz Vans is challenging category norms with an integrated campaign, ‘Tough Conversations’.
For decades, the ute segment has prided itself on the physical characteristics associated with ‘toughness’.
Mercedes-Benz Vans and The Royals set out to challenge these stereotypes in the launch campaign for the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class by exploring what toughness means today, with help from iconic punk rocker Henry Rollins.
The ‘Tough Conversations’ campaign includes a podcast series, radio partnership, PR, eDMs, social and online content, and a one-hour documentary to air on ONE in April.
To create the content, Mercedes-Benz Vans commissioned Rollins to take a road trip across the country, talking to Australians from all walks of life about what toughness means to them.
‘Tough Conversations’ explores the evolution of toughness to encompass not just strength, aggression and towing capability, but resolve, overcoming adversity and strength of character.
Its intention is to shine a light on the reality that toughness can come in many forms. By highlighting the evolution of ‘tough’ – a highly-valued Aussie trait – Mercedes-Benz aims to reflect the values of a more progressive audience and connect with a new type of ute driver
Diane Tarr, CEO and managing director of Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia & New Zealand, said the was an opportunity to celebrate a modern kind of toughness.
“To launch the X-Class in a mature ute market like Australia, we knew we needed to do something different to get Australians to understand that the X-Class stands for something more than the stereotypical toughness,” she said.
“We’ve all been really moved by the conversations Henry had on the road. He is a true embodiment of the evolution of tough and that makes him the perfect person to lead these conversations.
“He also has an ability like nobody else to get to the heart of a conversation, and to delve deep. We’re thrilled we can now share this with Australian audiences.”
The Royals creative partner Nick Cummins said: “The X-Class ute is the first of its kind. It’s a new kind of tough. This got us thinking about Australians and tough.
“Many Australians are sick of the outdated stereotype of what tough means – hiding your emotions or working out at the gym till something bursts.
“To explore what tough really means to Australians today, we turned to Henry Rollins – a man who has evolved from a head-butting, fist-fighting frontman to an intellectual touring the world with his Spoken Word concerts, challenging outdated beliefs and traditions.
“Henry has a curious mind and a way of drawing stories out of all kinds of people that have led to an intriguing exploration and some really tough conversations.”
Client: Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia
CEO and managing director: Diane Tarr
Head of product and marketing: Sabine Wagner
Marketing manager: Katherine Gracey
PR and corporate communications manager: Blake Vincent
Creative: The Royals
Creative partner: Nick Cummins
Managing partner: Andrew Siwka
Group account director: Clara Tang
Head of strategy: Michaela Futcher
Head of customer experience: Mikaël Perhirin
Planning director: Matt Davies
Communications director: Andrew Reeves
Senior copywriter: Lewis Farrar
Senior art director: Adam Frazer
Digital strategist: Chrissie Malloch
Senior account manager: Jade Mittermair
Senior broadcast producer: Fiona Gillies
PR: Of Character
Managing director: Kate Dinon
Head of media relations: Sarah Green
Executive producers: Michael Hilliard and Corey Esse
Director: Christopher Nelius
Director of production: Jordan Maddocks
Producer: Clare McGrath
Editor: Julie-Anne de Ruvo
Sound: Risk Sound
Sound designer: Dylan Stephens
Original music: Blessed
Podcast production and distribution: Whooshkaa
Content director: Corey Layton
Executive producer: Jess Bineth
Producer: Jess Hamilton
Sound engineer: Adam Connelly
Photography and videography: Safari
Photographer and content director: Andrew Englisch
Producer: Nigel Camilleri