Henry Rollins challenges the notion of tough in Mercedes-Benz X-Class campaign via The Royals

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 7.06.02 am.jpgTo launch its first ute in a category built on stereotypical toughness, Mercedes-Benz Vans is challenging category norms with an integrated campaign, 'Tough Conversations' created by The Royals.

For decades, the ute segment has prided itself on the physical characteristics associated with 'toughness'. Mercedes-Benz Vans and The Royals set out to challenge these stereotypes in the launch campaign for the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class by exploring what toughness means today - with help from iconic punk rocker Henry Rollins.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 7.06.21 am.jpgThe integrated content-driven campaign, 'Tough Conversations', includes a podcast series, radio partnership, PR, eDMs, social and online content, and a one-hour documentary to air on ONE in April.

To create the content, Mercedes-Benz Vans commissioned iconic punk rocker, actor, radio host, writer, and social commentator Henry Rollins to take a road trip across the country, talking toScreen Shot 2018-03-27 at 7.06.30 am.jpg Australians from all walks of life about what toughness means to them.

'Tough Conversations' explores the evolution of toughness to encompass not just strength, aggression and towing capability, but resolve, overcoming adversity and strength of character. Its intention is to shine a light on the reality that toughness can come in many forms. By highlighting the evolution of 'tough' - a highly valuedScreen Shot 2018-03-27 at 7.06.40 am.jpg Aussie trait - Mercedes-Benz aims to reflect the values of a more progressive audience and connect with a new type of ute driver.

CEO and managing director of Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia & New Zealand, Diane Tarr, said 'Tough Conversations' was an opportunity to celebrate a modern kind of toughness.

Says Tarr: "To launch the X-Class in a mature ute market likeScreen Shot 2018-03-27 at 7.06.49 am.jpg Australia, we knew we needed to do something different to get Australians to understand that the X-Class stands for something more than the stereotypical toughness."
Tarr said 'Tough Conversations' provided an ideal platform to do this: "We've all been really moved by the conversations Henry had on the road. He is a true embodiment of the evolution of toughScreen Shot 2018-03-27 at 7.07.00 am.jpg and that makes him the perfect person to lead these conversations. He also has an ability like nobody else to get to the heart of a conversation, and to delve deep. We're thrilled we can now share this with Australian audiences."

Says Nick Cummins, creative partner, The Royals: "The X-Class ute is the first of its kind. It's a new kind of tough. This got us thinking about Australians and tough. Many Australians are sick of the outdated stereotype of what tough means - hiding your emotions or working out at the gym till something bursts.
"To explore what tough really means to Australians today we turned to Henry Rollins - a man who has evolved from a head-butting, fist-fighting frontman to an intellectual touring the world with his Spoken Word concerts, challenging outdated beliefs and traditions. Henry has a curious mind and a way of drawing stories out of all kinds of people that have led to an intriguing exploration, and, some really tough conversations."

The campaign has already gained extensive PR coverage; the podcast reached number 1 on the iTunes charts within its first week of release and Network Ten has picked up the documentary to air on ONE on 18 April at 9:30pm. The documentary will also be available to stream on TenPlay after that date. 

The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Android, Spotify and all other podcast platforms.

For more content, visit www.x-class.com.au.

Client: Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia
CEO and Managing Director: Diane Tarr
Head of Product & Marketing: Sabine Wagner
Marketing Manager: Katherine Gracey
PR & Corporate Communications Manager: Blake Vincent
Agency: The Royals
Creative Partner: Nick Cummins
Managing Partner: Andrew Siwka
Group Account Director: Clara Tang
Head of Strategy: Michaela Futcher
Head of Customer Experience: Mikaël Perhirin
Planning Director: Matt Davies
Communications Director: Andrew Reeves
Senior Copywriter: Lewis Farrar
Senior Art Director: Adam Frazer
Digital Strategist: Chrissie Malloch
Senior Account Manager: Jade Mittermair
Senior Broadcast Producer: Fiona Gillies

PR Agency: Of Character
Managing Director: Kate Dinon
Head of Media Relations: Sarah Green

Production Company: FINCH
Executive Producer: Michael Hilliard and Corey Esse
Director: Christopher Nelius
DOP: Jordan Maddocks
Producer: Clare McGrath
Editor: Julie-Anne de Ruvo

Sound: Risk Sound
Sound Designer: Dylan Stephens

Original Music: Blessed
Podcast Production and Distribution: Whooshkaa
Content Director: Corey Layton
Executive Producer: Jess Bineth
Producer: Jess Hamilton
Sound Engineer: Adam Connelly
Photography & Videography: Safari
Photographer/ Content Director: Andrew Englisch
Producer: Nigel Camilleri

Media: Foundation


Marque Kabbaz said:

Bloody good work Lewis and team.
Nice to see some good storytelling, and a worthy exploration of what it means to be 'tough'. Feels timely.

Blank Flag said:

Staying true to his punk rock roots I see.

Dan O'Bey said:

Well done Lewis.

Harpo said:

Well done MercedesBenz - the podcast featuring a QLD station-owner who happened to be gay was awesome listening... it went viral in my family

Punk is dead said:

What a contextual, strategic nightmare. Daddy's gotta get paid. Gross.

Sorry said:

Won’t sell a single Nissan Navara

Okay then said:

I liked the 1.5 seconds featuring the actual product that's being launched.

I'm gay buy a ute said:

Beautifully produced, and Henry Rollins is a very believable, likeable frontman, but it's just sooooooooooooooo worthy.

And Royals, I respect that you've set out to do something different. Really I do. But there's a huge logic flaw here.

Tough in a ute isn't modern-man-strong-yet-vulnerable tough. It's literal-rocks-bounce-off-it-and-it-doesn't-break-down tough. If anything, a ute needs to be the old school version of tough. As in, I don't want my X-Class to have an emotional breakdown when I'm knee deep in mud in the middle of a shit storm.

I actually like this work. I just wish it had been for something else, where it didn't feel like tenuous borrowed interest.

Yo Royals said:

Stick to digital banners. This poo shows your limitations

@okay then said:

Pretty sure the whole point of this campaign is to say that tough isn't always what it seems, which is exactly the point Mercedes need to make being a luxury car manufacturer moving into the utility market.

And, if you actually paid attention to the campaign materials you might realise that they aren't saying modern toughness is all about being emotionally vulnerable. What they actually find is that toughness is all about resilience, leadership, resolve and putting it all on the line. Much like a good ute.

@@okay said:

Yeah, when you have to explain it like that it kind of proves the point that the link isn't clear.

I know it's hard, but you need to accept that your baby is ugly.

Keith Morris said:

Nice to see different stuff. I commend that.

On an unrelated note to the creative: Henry Rollins sold out long ago, the final nail in the coffin was him spruiking Calvin Klein underwear. I'm all for selling out but you have to admit he is a hypocrite.

Haters gonna masturbate said:

Looks like someone has finally done some good work.

And it's not an ad, it's a documentary.

And they've spent decent money on it.

And they've got the mayor of Sydney and Briggs as well as Henry Rollins.

Well done. Expect jealousy. I really like this.

Stay tough said:

Fantastic work Royals. Negative commenters haven't made anything decent in their lives. This is outstanding for the category, very appropriate for our time and getting the likes of Henry, Mick, Briggs and Clover to be in it for the right reasons is commendable. There's no selling out here - these are important messages.

Rubba said:

Well done Royals. Interesting. Different. Just like your lot.

Mercury said:

Clearly The Royals have been told to comment on a campaign that’s being savaged by its peers. Sadly the consensus remains: trite, lofty and embarrassingly lost.

@@@okay then said:

Touché. Shame the Ute didn’t make more of an appearance.

Tonkatuff said:

This is great
Should be more work like it
Whenever you try something different, brings the haters out from under their rocks.

Simply said:

Don’t let em bring u down. U don’t need a Ute in a Ute ad. #viral

Opinions aren't hate said:

Not sure what you're all getting at - apart from one or two hateful one-liners, the commentary is largely positive.

People are allowed to raise questions about the work. That's not hate. That's constructive criticism.

@Mr Constructive said:

If the work is in your opinion terrible, and you don’t work at the agency it works in your favour. They’ll sell less utes and the competition will benefit from a new client.

So unfortunately most of the time people come on here to slag work off it’s good work. I love this. You might not. So what? What ‘help’ does your narcissistic negativity add by posting a trite comment on here?

I want agencies and clients to do brave work because as a creative it benefits me. Our industry is the worst it’s been and anyone trying something new, brave and expensive should be applauded.

You actually don’t help the industry with pious negativity, you bring it down.

yo said:

I have no issue with people saying that work is weak, shit, off mark..whatever...just dont piss on it and walk off. be constructive, give reasons..or you're just a bellend.

This work, imo, is decent. It well done, looks good, is different and stands out from the majority of shit that passes for advertising work. I dont hate it anyway, which is a win for it

Leave a comment