Marcell Francke, executive creative director at antoni, on a gritty new spot with We Are From LA and Iconoclast
The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class models are the sportiest of ever in their class - so what better way to promote them than with some top tier sports stars? But this new campaign from Berlin-based agency antoni has way more to it than just a famous person vroom-vrooming about in a fast car. Starring tennis player Roger Federer, sprinter Akani Simbine and various other amateur athletes, ‘Never Stop Improving’ is a gritty but playful side-by-side of some of the world’s best sports people and this latest Mercedes-Benz, and their never-ending strive for the best. It’s directed by Iconoclast’s We Are From LA and features an intense voiceover from German-Ghanaian rap artist Serious Klein (in both German and English, market dependent).
LBB’s Addison Capper spoke with Marcell Francke, executive creative director at antoni, to find out more.
LBB> What kind of brief did Mercedes-Benz approach you with and what were you thinking when you first saw it?
MF> The brief was to position the four C-Class models as their most sportive versions yet. The client wanted us to reach a much younger target group and asked us to integrate their ambassadors Roger Federer and Akani Simbine. Plus, they wanted a modular film concept that could be adjusted to every market. We were really excited. The brief contained all the ingredients needed to create a campaign rejuvenating the Mercedes brand.
LBB> Tell us about the ‘Never Stop Improving’ line - what was the inspiration behind that?
MF> We were looking for something that athletes and the C-Class have in common. The truth we found was that they both work hard on getting better every day. Eventually, the client really liked showcasing this relentless improvement process.
LBB> Car commercials - especially sports car commercials - are inherently macho, focusing on speed, smoking wheels, etc. This has elements of that but via the eye of humans as opposed to the vehicle. Why was that the right approach?
MF> The overall strategy of Mercedes-Benz is to position every new car as a human centered innovation. We try to talk more about the benefits for the driver than the features of the car. In this film we created analogies between the athletes and the car. Endurance for example stands for better fuel efficiency, fast reactions for the safety feature Distronic Plus, and so on.
LBB> Which athletes star in the film and why were they the perfect ambassadors for the C-Class brand?
MF> In addition to Roger Federer and Akani Simbine, we spent a lot of time casting over a dozen amateur athletes with outstanding skills in their field. They represent all of our markets.
LBB> The spot is narrated by Serious Klein - how and why did you get him involved in the project?
MF> We were thinking a lot about using an original track from Dizzee Rascal, but at one point we decided to compose a track to have more freedom in the edit. French producer Surkin, who did the instrumental, suggested a couple of different European rappers. In the end, Serious Klein’s demo convinced us. After we found out that he was capable of recording the voice-over for our TVCs in both English and German, we were even more excited.
LBB> Why were We Are From LA the right directors to bring this to life?
MF> Probably because they’re able to craft an image to perfection. Their interpretation had a positivity and colourfulness to it that the client and our team really liked. But I have to say that the decision wasn’t easy. We had three totally different but amazing director’s interpretations to choose from.
LBB> What kind of conversations were you having with them on set? It’s got such intensity and I love the little flashes of animation - was it more a case of letting their creativity flow?
MF> We had a lot of discussions revolving around creating the perfect match cuts and additional scenes. After the shoot, we came into the edit with over 25 hours of footage. We Are From LA came up with the animations and the glitches before and during the shoot and we brought them to life later on. This kind of animation style is very characteristic for them.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
MF> Definitely the match cuts and trying to craft them to perfection without losing the roughness and the realness in the images. It was a collaborative effort.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
MF> Yes, props to the amazing editor Simon Colin.