Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 4

4

* MARCH 2020

A PITCH WITH A

Virginie Aubert of
Mercedes-Benz says the AMG
Winter Sporting event exists
to build relationships and to
have participants "go back
home and for us to be a part
of the dinner conversation
about how amazing the
experience was." About 200
people attend the event over
the course of a month.

NEW SPIN
Mercedes-Benz has
bowed out of Canadian
auto shows to focus
on experiential events
designed to leave a
lasting impression with
enthusiasts of the brand

PHOTO: MERCEDES-BENZ CANADA

For this year's AMG Winter Sporting event in Manitoba, Mercedes-Benz
used 345 blocks of ice to build a garage. P H O T O : M E R C E D E S - B E N Z C A N A D A

By KELLY TAYLOR

WINNIPEG CORRESPONDENT

IN GIMLI, MAN., THE ICE ON LAKE
Winnipeg grows thick enough to
land a 747 passenger plane, while the
aroma of Crown Royal whisky wafts
across the town. This is the only place
in the world it's made. Just offshore
from downtown, the roar of V-8 and
turbocharged four-cylinder engines
echoes through a village of ice-fishing
huts.
It's the fourth annual AMG Winter
Sporting, an experiential marketing
program hosted by Mercedes-Benz.
It attracts about 200 people over four
weeks - late January to the end
of February - from across North
America.
For $4,595 per person, plus airfare,
guests are two to a car for the threeday program. For $5,995, guests get
cars to themselves for the three days.
At the top price of $7,995, they're solo
for an intensive four-day program.
For a cottage town about 90 kilometres north of Winnipeg that essentially
goes into hibernation for the winter,
being at the epicentre of MercedesBenz's North American marketing
plans has been beneficial. And for
Mercedes-Benz, which has pulled out
of the Canadian auto-show circuit,
events such as AMG Winter Sporting
are a critical piece of marketing strategy.

RELATIONSHIPS, NOT REVENUE
At AMG Winter Sporting, customers
drive high-performance Mercedes AMG
models to the very edge of control and
beyond on frozen Lake Winnipeg, learning how to handle a vehicle when the
limits of traction are low.
The program isn't about the revenue it generates, said Virginie Aubert,
vice-president of marketing for
Mercedes-Benz Canada.
"It's about building relationships

From 10 per cent
to 30 per cent of
Porsche Experience
customers who buy
a Porsche can trace
the decision to their
participation in
the program, the
company said.

PHOTO: PORSCHE CANADA

Porsche's Jennifer Cooper says the
automaker's events "are fundamental
facets of our entire brand strategy
. . . It's not just something we do
for the sake of eventually selling a
vehicle." P H O T O : P O R S C H E C A N A D A

and it's about having them go back
home and for us to be a part of the dinner conversation about how amazing
the experience was."
This year, Mercedes constructed an Ice Garage out of 345 blocks of
ice and hosted Canadian live music
- the Arkells and Said the Whale -
at a chilly nighttime concert. When
Mercedes-Benz leaves, the Ice Garage
is used by Gimli as part of its annual
Ice Festival in March.
Brian Fulton, CEO of MercedesBenz Canada, said that for 2020, his
company decided to pull out of auto
shows and redirect its marketing dol-

lars to events such as AMG Winter
Sporting to attract a new audience of
social media influencers.
"[Pulling out of auto shows] is not
a savings exercise," he said. "We're
spending our money doing something
unique, that's different. This is the
beginning of a number of different initiatives that will fill that gap of not
being in the auto shows."
Mercedes-Benz Canada declined to
comment on the cost of the winter program.

EXCITE THE CUSTOMER
Porsche, which still attends
Canadian auto shows, holds two experiential programs in Canada for consumers: Porsche Ice Experience at
Mecaglisse Raceway in Quebec and
the Porsche Track Experience at
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park east
of Toronto.
"These events are fundamental facets of our entire brand strategy," said
Jennifer Cooper, manager, events,
motorsports and Porsche Experience
at Porsche Canada.
"It helps to drive customer excitement with the brand.
"It's not just something we do for
the sake of eventually selling a vehicle."
Experiential marketing programs
allow companies to form a more intimate bond with their customers, said
George Augustaitis, director of analytics for Car Gurus.
"They allow customers to open up
and listen to the brand and have it not
feel like a sales pitch."
Augustaitis said that for recent
purchasers, such events also enhance
their appreciation of the capabilities of their vehicle, whether it's
an off-road beast such as a Jeep or
Land Rover or a sports car such as a
Porsche 911 or Mercedes-AMG model.
Gauging the success of these programs can be difficult, but Porsche's
Cooper said 10 per cent to 30 per cent

of Porsche Experience customers who
buy a Porsche trace the decision to
their participation in the program.
In addition to programs by Porsche
and Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land
Rover runs off-road events in Quebec
and race programs in the United
Kingdom. Audi runs a winter program in Quebec, while the Jeep
Jamboree is held in a variety of locations. For 2020, it's in Death Valley,
Calif.
Aubert said Mercedes-Benz's interest is driven by the need to step outside the box of traditional advertising
models and find new ways to reach
different audiences.
"It's incredibly important. It's our
Number One deliverable," she said.
"Today, it's really about being a modern marketer. And if you stay in that
traditional sandbox, you're not going
to get very far." - ANC

Mercedes-Benz Canada CEO Brian
Fulton, pictured with Virginie Aubert,
vice-president of marketing, says the
automaker has redirected money to
events from auto shows to attract
social media influencers and create
"something unique."
P H O T O : K E L LY TAY L O R



Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2

Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - Intro
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 1
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 2
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 3
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 4
Automotive News Canada - March 2020 - v2 - 5
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