Mercedes-Benz has produced its first spot for Instagram’s new IGTV platform, a black and white short film called Bertha Benz: The First Driver.
The branded content is just over two minutes in length and tells the story of Bertha Benz, wife of car inventor—and Mercedes-Benz co-founder—Karl Benz. When Karl invented the first automobile in 1888, it was his wife, Bertha that took it on a 60-mile ride through Germany to prove that it works.
“This was one of those projects that we’d been kicking around for a little while,” Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services and digital customer experience at Mercedes-Benz USA told AList. “We’ve told the ‘birth of Benz’ story a number of times before but we really wanted to make sure that at some point, we produce a more powerful video to tell the story.”
The First Driver, which was originally considered for National Women’s Day, was launched on Monday ahead of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this weekend.
“This week felt like a really magical week to launch the story celebrate the 130th anniversary [of Mercedes-Benz] and kick off a week of classic car content,” added Aikman.
The First Driver is filmed in black and white and features no sound other than a piano score, reminiscent of a silent film. The video shows how Bertha overcame odds like the car breaking down and believed in her husband’s invention when he had doubts.
“We liked that culture clash between the most contemporary place that you can put video—the newest channel in kind of the newest vertical video format on IGTV—with something that feels amazingly authentic to the story that we’re telling,” said Aikman, who added that seeing a woman drive by in 1888 was probably like seeing a flying car today.
IGTV launched in June as a platform for short-form video content designed to highlight creators. As a long-time beta tester for Facebook and Instagram, Mercedes-Benz was eager to try out the new format, although they knew it couldn’t be a traditional video ad.
“Because it’s more of an entertainment platform and not an advertising platform at launch,” said Aikman, “we [had to] think about content that feels more like storytelling content. Mercedes-Benz isn’t new to vertical video—we’ve been using that advertising format for a while because of the importance of mobile in today’s world.”
As young consumers increasingly turn to digital content and video for entertainment, Aikman says storytelling is more important than ever for marketers. You have to earn your place on the platforms, he stressed.
“I believe storytelling is critical,” explained Aikman. “It’s always been finding that balance between those stories that brands have to tell with their products, heritage and missions and what really connects you to customers. As a brand, we’re trying to drive those emotional connections with our audience and we do it with authentic, powerful stories that are ingrained in who we are.”
In addition to IGTV, The First Driver has been launched on YouTube and Facebook, although in a traditional (horizontal) video format.