It would be easy, and cheap, to slam an ambitious new marketing campaign by Mercedes-Benz called “Grow Up”. Because its sub-text is that growing up means buying the latest GLA, a gleaming machine which retails for between US$34 to 50,000.
The text in the video is richer and more complicated. What is growing up, anyway? These superbly acted vignettes show how complicated life is when Mercedes-Benz's target demographic, Gen X and Gen Y, doesn't follow the rules. Or better said, when they follow the new rule that you make up your own rules.
Perhaps the producers of the promotion believe that this is the way that life really is: messy, fractured, punctuated with moments of joy but mostly unhappy, sometimes violent. The ties of marriage and family make life worthwhile, but they are fragile and snap in an instant. One of the videos depicts a lesbian couple which has broken up, even though they want to remain friends, whatever that means.
But the message I got was a desperate longing for stable mum-and-dad families. Even if you can afford that A-class you've always dreamed of, that life of yours isn't worth a bucket of warm spit without the love of a family.
Check them out. It's a brilliant series by the German agency Antoni GmbH. Here are three of them. More are on the way.
Grow up: “Be a good parent”: a middle-aged man quits his job and tries to reconnect with his son. Where’s the wife/mother? What’s the meaning of work?
Grow up: “Settle down”: after a live-in couple breaks up, the guy wants to reconnect. And can’t.
Grow up: “Start a family”: After ten years a couple finally has a child. And it’s not easy. Especially when you’re not married. Especially when you don't understand commmitment. Especially when you don't know what fatherhood implies.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet