Visitors to the Mercedes Advanced Design Center in Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart, are required to leave their mobile phones at the front desk. The company is highly concerned about industrial espionage at the facility, where chief designer Gordon Wagener is developing new models that Jens Thiemer, head of brand communications, will market to customers. The fact that both Mercedes’ design and marketing are in better shape today has a lot to do with the good chemistry between the two men, both natives of Essen in the northwestern part of Germany.
Handelsblatt: Mr. Thiemer, Germany won the soccer World Cup. What does the trophy do for the team’s main sponsor, Mercedes?
Thiemer: First of all, we’re thrilled that our “fourth star” campaign (for the country’s fourth World Cup win) was such a resounding success. We deliberately set the bar high before the World Cup with our slogan, “Ready like never before,” and the team lived up to those expectations. We see the German team’s victory as the culmination of an effective partnership. After all, we’ve sponsored the German Soccer Association since 1972, through all its ups and downs.
Mercedes is a global brand. Does the national team hold an appeal for people outside Germany?
Thiemer: We just had a meeting with our global heads of marketing, from Italy to China. Many of them wanted to use our German advertising materials that involve the national team – even sales and marketing in England is interested. This national team is very popular around the world, and we’re happy to take advantage of that.
Formula One is your second draw. The car racing series has come under fire in the wake of corruption scandals. Are you sticking to Formula One?
Thiemer: Motorsports has always been part of the Mercedes brand. Our engineers worked hard to make the current series of successes in Formula One possible, and the victories, clearly, are a gift to our marketing effort. Technical developments in racing are incorporated into our regular models, such as the new S500 plug-in hybrids. Of course, we also use racing for the interplay between marketing and design.