- Mercedes-Benz USA debuted an interactive experience powered by augmented reality (AR) and voice technology at the U.S. Open in Queens, New York, on Wednesday. Through Sept. 8, tournament visitors can get a virtual tennis lesson from brand ambassador and 2017 champion Sloane Stephens, according to a press release provided to Marketing Dive.
- Visitors activate the lesson with the voice command, "Hey, Mercedes, teach me to play like Sloane," prompting a recorded video of Stephens teaching proper serving skills. The AR activation immerses players in a virtual court and responds to their individual movements. Guests receive a digital video of their game experience to share on social media.
- During the Atlanta Falcons' first home game in September, the carmaker will create a similar tech-powered activation at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the help of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Head of Brand Experience Monique Harrison told Marketing Dive. "Each time, these brand ambassadors will help bring the car's technology to life," she said, adding that her team is eyeing other locations for the AR experience through 2020.
Mercedes' tech-powered activation during the U.S. Open could help the brand build awareness and highlight its in-car technology, dubbed MBUX, in a memorable way.
The interactive experience gives the carmaker an opportunity to tell a brand story that cuts through traditional ads on TV, radio or online, according to Harrison, who added that Mercedes is doubling down in the experiential space to promote MBUX.
"If you can touch it and feel it, you understand it a bit more," she said.
While the brand's GLS model, which features MBUX tech, isn't a key player in the virtual lessons from Stephens, the vehicle is parked next to the activation in the Mercedes-Benz Brand Center at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Its placement aims to spark an association between the game's AR and voice tools and Mercedes' in-car technology, giving visitors a taste of MBUX. Vehicle specialists are nearby to answer questions and interact with potential car buyers one-on-one as well.
Hosting the immersive experience at the U.S. Open aligns with Mercedes' history as a tennis supporter since 1996. This year, the brand is the tournament's sponsor and official vehicle.
The luxury carmaker has shifted its marketing focus in the past few years toward newer, more tech-forward tactics, including video campaigns on Instagram's IGTV for International Women's Day and a virtual reality effort that highlighted car innovations.
By embracing ambassador partnerships and immersive technology, Mercedes appears to be elevating its connection with consumers. It was found to be one of the most meaningful brands in a February study conducted by agency Havas.