The mystery of the botched Mercedes SLK premiere
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This is what the first pictures of the new SLK looked like. The heavily camouflaged car allowed little conclusions to be drawn about what the production car would look like one day.
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The SLK covered with camouflage film on a test drive.
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It was clear, however, that the SLK should be richer than its predecessor on the road.
Every new car is presented according to a precise plan. It was also intended for the SLK. But then Mercedes had a nasty surprise.
W.hen the world is wondering about the Wikileaks reports from the American embassies, the auto industry is also experiencing its own surprises on the Internet. The latest example: the early premiere of the Mercedes-Benz SLK on the YouTube video portal. Contrary to what the Stuttgart-based company had planned, the small roadster is not being shown for the first time at a staged premiere party, but in a film of at least eight minutes in astonishingly good quality.
In a highly technical world, especially in a networked world, one might think that a corporation can avoid breakdowns of this kind – or even knowingly carry them out in order to get a little extra promotion for the new model. Mercedes in particular is always suspicious in this regard, as the Swabians like to play the keyboard of the film premieres. A classic example is the supposed discovery of the E-Class during the filming of “Men in Black”. The black limousine was also intended to transport the alien hunters into the modern era – during the filming in New York, the best quality images were made available to the media.
Mercedes never credibly denied that this mishap was not. Similar mishaps at Audi or BMW have since fallen under the general suspicion of targeted publication in order to get more PR for the new product. In retrospect, it is difficult to say whether there is actually an intention behind this or whether a mistake should be cleverly concealed. In view of the effort that the automotive industry puts into launching a vehicle on the market with pinpoint accuracy, premature publications seem to be a dangerous game. Finally, there is usually still a veritable inventory of the model to be replaced, which quickly expires in price if too many details of a successor become known prematurely.
It is different with vehicles that do not have a predecessor. Reports are welcome here and in good time, and the PR machinery is also happy to use the medium of film for such a model in order to attract worldwide attention as early as possible. The first generation of the M-Class drove around in the Jurassic Park strip, attracting a lot of additional attention. For the little brother of the M-Class, the GLK, the jungle with primeval lizards was too dangerous. Its premiere territory was New York, its lizards and predators were the ladies of Sex and the City. In both cases, Mercedes used the medium of film to position the car appropriately.
The case is different with the SLK, as the company now asserts. The roadster suffers from the disadvantages of globalization: While it used to be no problem to first present a car in one market and later in the other regions of the world, in the age of the Internet everything has to happen at the same time as possible. For the automotive industry, this means that advertising films, customer information, press materials and similar means of communication must be available in many languages at the same time. This increases the number of service providers working on a project. At the SLK, an employee of a French translation agency thought it would be a good idea to publish the video he had about his work on YouTube. By the time Mercedes was informed of the incident, 3,000 users had already seen the film. The prompt deletion by Youtube led to an equally quick relocation by anonymous users. What is once on the net doesn’t disappear again after all. This results in nice discussions in the world’s automobile blogs, which the media are always happy to take up. Seen in this way, one could almost assume that Mercedes-Benz was on purpose.
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