Another significant shift from a major automotive brand has echoed across various brands and might be the inception of a new paradigm in car presentations. Mercedes-Benz recently announced a new stance in car showcasing, stating that from now on, there will be “no more ‘pretties’” (promotional models). The era of the glamorous models standing by the cars at every event is over. This move is aligned with the company’s commitment to gender equality and valuing diversity.
Is this a genuine effort on the company’s part or just one of their marketing strategies? Let's delve into deciphering this matter and explore how it mirrors the evolving changes in society.
A new approach When the value of an individual isn’t determined by gender and the world is progressing towards another level of technology, turning alongside the innovation journey that is heading towards the cars of the future. In this context, Mercedes-Benz stands as a globally recognized and “bold” brand that is breaking away from the conventional notion of “beautiful women paired with beautiful cars.”
Shifting away from the antiquated practice of marketing that relies on gender stereotypes, and burying it deep under the influence of the changing times, we’re now entering a new era, free from limitations based on appearance, gender, and lifestyle. For brands like Mercedes-Benz, this has become an opportunity to seize a fresh stance in product presentation, making their brand appear even more luxurious (beyond its already luxurious image).
The context of the “pretties” has shifted The company introduces a “Digital Guide” that provides information about all models of their vehicles, without the condition that they must be attractive young women posing provocatively next to the cars at every show. In reality, this branding element might not bring much benefit, but it has been used extensively due to the requirement that it is deemed “necessary.”
From the data of the largest auto show in Thailand, Motor Show, which has been held for almost half a century, it’s evident that promotional models have been a part of such events since the very first one. The main purpose initially was marketing, particularly to attract the audience’s interest to visit booths. Over time, this tradition has continued, and now, when people talk about or attend the Motor Show, the term “pretty” is often brought up as a joke:
“Are you going to the Motor Show to see the pretties?”
“Did you go to buy a car and take pictures with the pretties?"
The context of “pretties” has shifted drastically over time. What initially started as a marketing strategy has evolved into making an individual a “victim,” subjected to both direct and indirect harm by ill-intentioned individuals. Moreover, the prevailing perception of promotional models in today’s socially conscious society must acknowledge that the images projected are no longer as glamorous as they used to be.
Looking at it differently, fewer women’s roles is not a new thing to match the trend for gender equality in society. In car racing like Formula 1, they stopped using Grid Girls in 2018, for similar reasons. They did it because they wanted to treat everyone equally, considering how society is changing. The main point is that having Grid Girls doesn’t illustrate the brand’s values anymore, and it goes against what modern society believes in.
Melissa James, a 25-year-old former Grid Girl and a model for over 8 years, shared her feelings with CNN, saying that
“You’re not just standing there on the concrete… Saying that we’re just a pretty face is absolutely ludicrous. We’re saleswomen at the end of the day. We need to learn how to talk to people and get people on board with the product”
She also adds that, “I absolutely loved it. You want me to wear a super comfortable outfit and go to the VIP areas and watch what I was already going to pay to watch? Yeah, that’s fine by me. It was a dream job.”
No more “pretties”? In the world of Thai automobiles, the names ‘Benz’ and ‘Mercedes-Benz’ stand out as icons of remarkable marketing prowess that has stood the test of time. These names conjure images of luxurious European cars, known for their inherent value and aspirational charm. This strong connection, carefully nurtured by the brand, carries a profound appeal.
However, the introduction of promotional models adds a subtle layer of complexity. While these models are strategically positioned to capture attention and attract event-goers, their incorporation demands finesse. Poor execution could potentially weaken the brand's essence. The interplay of promotional models within the Benz storyline encourages reflection, as it might inadvertently lead to a clash, tipping the balance towards unfavorable outcomes rather than positive ones.
Merging with the current wave of discussions on equality and freedom in society! Whether at home or globally, the choice to present products is now intertwined with factors that might invite scrutiny from various perspectives. The control is elusive, reaching hundreds and thousands, and might hold the key to marketing in this era of societal transformation from what it used to be.