Ul­tra man

A taste of the in­flu­encer life.

Esquire (Malaysia) - - MACHINERY - Words by Ja­son tan

The world has turned, and so has po­lit­i­cally cor­rect lan­guage. His­to­ri­ans once em­ployed the terms BC, Be­fore Christ; and AD, Anno Do­mini, mean­ing in the year of the Lord or af­ter the com­ing of Christ. Now, it’s BCE (Be­fore Com­mon Era) and CE. Sad! The Don­ald would tweet… they stand for the same damned thing. In Sin­ga­pore, how­ever, the ini­tials are BMBS and MBS: Be­fore Ma­rina Bay Sands and af­ter Ma­rina Bay Sands.

For ex­iles and those who came in late, Ma­rina Bay Sands is the epi­cen­tre of the global city, a show­case for the peo­ple of the life­style re­wards avail­able to the sin­gle-minded pur­suit of all mod­ern life has to of­fer. It was into this mi­lieu that Mercedes-benz pitched its fizzing con­voy of CLA, GLA and A-class mod­els re­plete with a new gen­er­a­tion of early adopters and in­flu­encers. June 2017 MBS marked the Ul­tra-suc­cess­ful era of the Mercedes-benz Ur­ban Hunt­ing Move­ment.

The re­brand­ing and en­gage­ment cam­paign started in 2015 MBS; it’s de­scribed by Mercedes-benz Malaysia as a “move­ment driven by the Mercedes-benz’s new gen­er­a­tion com­pact cars to hunt for the ac­tive leisure and life­style that de­fines the city life­style.” To trans­late, the strate­gic mar­ket­ing brief might go like this: get mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z to like our brand. Make the de­sign more street and sear the brand-life­style as­so­ci­a­tions into their hips and brains.

But, for the long­est time, there were no mod­els that fit the brief; the ini­tial en­try-level A-class and C-class range were not de­signed with an in­flu­encer mind­set. (Fun fact: the first A-class was ac­tu­ally rad­i­cal for its time but felled by a Swedish “moose”.) Worse, the brand’s sig­na­ture value of build qual­ity and longevity was a con­ser­va­tive value that worked against it, be­cause a Merc was seen as “my fa­ther’s car”.

The CLA, GLA and A-class range change all the above. You know how suc­cess­fully they ful­fil the brief be­cause so many of the spec­i­mens you see on the road have not been sub­ject to the in­dig­nity of third-party cos­metic mods, or rel­a­tively lit­tle of it; this shows they’re read­ily ac­cept­able to their mar­ket be­cause they speak the same (de­sign) lan­guage and are spec’d to the hilt with op­tions.

The com­pany also seems to have com­mit­ted hefty mar­ket­ing bud­gets and cre­ative re­sources to low­er­ing the aver­age age of its buyer. In ad­di­tion to the im­pres­sive “Grow Up” se­ries of vids that plays on the brand’s trad im­age for its global cam­paign, Mercedes-benz has been elab­o­rat­ing on its re­gional cam­paign idea of “ur­ban hunt­ing” more am­bi­tiously since its pi­lot Ur­ban Hunt­ing Art and Mu­sic Drive in 2015. Last year saw the first Ur­ban Hunt­ing Star Drive to the Ul­tra Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in Sin­ga­pore for “fans and own­ers” in 130 cars, where the new CLA was also pre­sented.

This year, Mercedes-benz se­cured pre­mium part­ner sta­tus to Ul­tra Sin­ga­pore. In its two-storey suite di­rectly across the Ul­tra Main Stage, it hosted more than 1,500 “fans, cus­tomers and part­ners” from Viet­nam, Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore, In­done­sia, Philip­pines, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Cam­bo­dia and Laos, all of whom had a chance to touch and feel the Mercedes-amg GT S and the newly launched GLA.

But the draw were Ul­tra head­lin­ers Tiesto and Aoki. Tiesto’s EDM verged on in­dus­trial, the block-wide and high back­drop like the dis­play on Godzilla’s ghetto blaster mag­ni­fied to in­fin­ity at a gajil­lion watts PMPO. Aoki’s set was in­trigu­ingly clas­si­cal and op­er­atic be­fore turn­ing into Mod­ern Talk­ing with al­go­rithms. The crowd on the muddy plains, ab­sorbed it all with de rigueur bare bod­ies made for the oc­ca­sion.

Esquire’s ride home was the A 250 Sport, the per­fect nar­ra­tive con­ti­nu­ity to the techno spec­ta­cle of Ul­tra. Chis­elled haunches, squat stance and ag­gres­sive jew­ellery (de­signer-speak for parts that can be blinged, like head­lamps) are matched by bassy, up­front power de­liv­ery and a chas­sis tuned to leave you in no doubt you’re go­ing places fast. It’s the kind that makes you want to bomb into the wrong corners, lose your nerve and hit the brakes. Many will, but it holds its line. A later ride in an older ex­am­ple used just like this, and worse, showed that Mercedes-benz still builds them like they used to, Chrysler years now ex­or­cised. In short, like its stately pre­de­ces­sors, the new gen­er­a­tion can still be used to part the seas—to your cho­sen life­style des­ti­na­tion.

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