Have you seen the über popular YouTube “The Catch” clip recently? Well, more than two million people have, so might want to check it out. The goal of this video, showing Formula 1 driver David Coulthard catching a 178 mph golf ball on the passenger seat of the Mercedes SLS Roadster, was to make the brand appeal to a younger audience. To accomplish this, Mercedes decided to celebrate its position as an official sponsor for the Open 2012 in a completely new way: by connecting its heritage of fast, high-quality cars to the equally fast golf ball in a Guinness World Record. Here we take a deep look at why Mercedes’s video stunt “The Catch” went viral.
But how many people in the audience share the view that this is yet another example of needless consumerism? Do videos like these show that potential customers are taken seriously, or are they merely a waste of money?
Over the past years, both the ubiquity of consumerism itself and the number of voices criticizing it seems to have exploded. New products are produced to be bought, coveted, and thrown out in the course of only months, presented in advertising campaigns reflecting this practice.
Consuming has transformed from a method to acquire what you need into a goal in itself, and especially in these times of recession, many people call for a more sustainable, back-to-basic society.
However, this view disregards what a video like “The Catch” means to the people who watch it, enjoy it, and share it. Like a multi-billion Hollywood blockbuster, it means escapism and social bonding.
There is nothing wrong with taking a break from your everyday life, whether you do it by breaking a Guinness World Record with a sports car and a golf ball, or by watching the resulting video. It shows excellence, it shows nerve, and, most of all, it shows fun. Does anyone think these are vices of consumerism?
The audience doesn’t. In terms of reach, there is no doubt that the campaign has been successful, with features on international TV and in various newspapers, and over 2 million YouTube views. And it’s most likely that the 60,000 people who shared the video on their Facebook pages did so simply because they liked it.
The younger audience Mercedes Benz wanted to reach enjoys these types of videos, which prove to them that anything is possible, and inspire them to set their goals high and work hard for them, just like Mercedes, David Coulthard, and Jake Shepherd, the golfer who shot the ball.
Is driving around a race track, and trying to catch a golf ball in a sports car hedonistic? Perhaps. But enjoying what you’re doing and sharing this with others has never been a bad thing. The video is exciting, playful, and extraordinary, just like the SLS. Or as summarised by the other top comment: “Completely useless, totally fun.”