Merkley + Partners, The-Artery, Mercedes-Benz Share Vision For "Invisible Car"

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Robert Goldrich
Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020

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Merkley + Partners marks the launch of Mercedes-Benz’s all-electric sub-brand EQ with this spot heralding the flagship EQS set to hit showroom floors in the second half of 2021.
 
How do you announce the arrival of a revolutionary car that will help pave the way toward a zero-impact, fully sustainable future? The intuitive leap turned out to be as creative as it was simple. If the impact on our natural environment cannot be seen or felt, the thought was to create a commercial that shows consumers just what we mean. For the introduction of the EQS, a car commercial was developed featuring an invisible car. To be precise, the EQS concept vehicle.

A simple solution, but as you will soon “see,” a technically complex and logistically difficult undertaking. It would require the clear visualization of a car in motion, without the car. To add to an already complex concept, the proposed production was set to shoot in late February 2020 just as COVID-19 struck. “Invisible Car” became the last live-action commercial to be shot by Mercedes-Benz before the pandemic shut down global production.

The first task was to find a location. A place of lush beauty, viscerally evoking the kind of green future that we all look forward to with optimism--the northern coast of California, Marin County. Rural, untouched by development, with highways winding through redwood groves and along sea-swept vistas. As luck would have it, spring rains left the region so lush and green that initial viewers believed the color to be enhanced!

Next, came the hard--but fun--part. Setting up the illusion of a passing vehicle, with no car. Merkley+Partners tapped the multi-award-winning creative studio The-Artery. Measurements were taken. Camera moves meticulously planned. For each scene in which the invisible car passed through, the camera moves needed to provide a focal point for the eye--and yet, there would be nothing there. 

After each scene was shot came weeks of VFX work, again supervised by The-Artery. Added to the scenes were such enhancements as the natural movement of grass, leaves--even the magic of an invisible tire splashing through a puddle. There were a few stock footage scenes used to amplify the storytelling, but those were also enhanced with VFX to match the technical execution and aesthetics of the rest of the commercial.

The end result leaves quite an impression. As Jon Hamm, the longtime voice of Mercedes-Benz, says in the voiceover, "perhaps the greatest mark Mercedes-Benz can leave upon the world is to leave no mark at all."

Vico Sharabani of The-Artery directed “Invisible Car” which breaks in conjunction with The Masters golf tournament. Mercedes-Benz is a global sponsor of The Masters.

Credits

Client Mercedes-Benz USA Agency Merkley + Partners, New York Andy Hirsch, executive creative director/partner; Max Godsil, group creative director; Gabi Hastings, creative director; Gary Grossman, director of broadcast production; Chris Coccaro, sr. producer. Production The-Artery, New York Vico Sharabani, director; Deborah Sullivan, exec producer; Emily Branham, producer. Editorial The-Artery, New York Michael Elliot, editor. VFX/Color The-Artery, New York  Music Butter Music and Sound, New York Andrew Sherman, chief creative officer; Ian Jeffreys, managing director/EP; Aaron Kotler, executive creative diector; Renee Masse, producer. Sound Design/Audio Post Heard City, New York Phillip Loeb, Eric Warzecha, sound designers & mixers

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