Mercedes-Benz “Chicken” Magic Body Control Commercial: A Pluckin’ Rip-Off [The Ad Section]

Mercedes-Benz “Chicken” Magic Body Control Commercial: A Pluckin’ Rip-Off [The Ad Section]

Just as it takes an engineering genius to create something as complex as Mercedes’ “Magic Body Control” (MBC) suspension, it also takes a marketing genius to explain it in a way that the common man can readily understand. Mercedes-Benz seemingly gets this. In its simplest terms, MBC uses a specialized camera to scan the road and transmit the data to the car’s Active Body Control system in time for it to compensate for imperfections such as speed bumps and potholes. On one of its websites, Mercedes describes the technology like this: “The control unit receives information on the current driving conditions from various acceleration sensors and compares it with the data from the pressure sensors in the spring struts and the level sensors on the control arms. Subsequently the system calculates control signals for the servo-hydraulic valves on the front and rear axle, in order to meter the flow of oil appropriately. All of this results in a magical combination of optimum comfort and impressive driving dynamics.” Mercedes could have, in predictable Teutonic fashion, used that exact and very complex copy to tout the new feature. Instead, it wisely used chickens.

The spot opens on a tight close up of a chicken’s head. We hear a short countdown to one of the single best songs of all time, Diana Ross’s “Upside Down”. As the beat comes up, the chicken gets down . . . this poulet definitely has her groove on, with soulful neck moves that are guaranteed to draw you in. With a little help from her friends, Chicken Little’s body gyrates up, down, inside out, and round ‘n’ round in sync with the song’s suggestive lyrics, but through it all her head remains level and her gaze stays true. There’s no copy, because none is needed. The closing supers say it all: “Stability at all times. Magic Body Control. Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive.”

Because this spot is simple, effective, and entertaining, some might argue that it’s brilliant, but as compelling and well-produced as it is, I must cry “fowl.” FujiFilm used this exact same concept earlier this year in a commercial for its stabilized X-S1 camera. See for yourself.

Granted, this is not the first time an agency has used a concept someone else came up with previously. But in the age of online research tools and global reach, a gaffe like this is inexcusable, especially since the agency that made the spot, Jung Von Matt, is based in Germany, which also is home to FujiFilm’s agency (Ogilvy Germany) and where the X-S1 commercial likely aired. I know from past posts that some of you don’t agree with me on this, but I firmly believe that when ad agencies sell a client their creative work, it should be their creative work, not someone else’s. Maybe JVM was somehow unaware of the FujiFilm spot, but if I could find it in less than five minutes without even trying, I’m sure they could have found it with similar ease.

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That critical issue aside, I think “Chicken” does a great job of explaining MBC in an entertaining way that’s easy to understand and it’s already generating tons of all-important social-media buzz. In that regard, Mercedes certainly will get its money’s worth from this ad, but in good conscience and out of respect for the sanctity of advertising creativity, I’m going to leave this one in neutral.

Award-winning ad man-cum-auto journalist Don Klein knows a good (or bad) car commercial when he sees one; the Ad Section is his space to tell you what he thinks of the latest spots. The ad’s rating is depicted via the shift pattern at the bottom, but everyone has an opinion when it comes to advertising, so hit Backfires below and tell us what you think, too.

Mercedes-Benz “Chicken” Magic Body Control Commercial: A Pluckin’ Rip-Off [The Ad Section]

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