Mercedes-Benz brings shareability to its frozen racetrack

Gimli, Manitoba served as the backdrop for an event that looked to content creators to build buzz for the brand.

Merc edez

When Mercedes-Benz Canada wanted to drive more social shareability for its signature winter driving events, it didn’t turn to fancy European test tracks like Italy’s Nardo Ring or Germany’s Ehra-Leissen. It went to a frozen lake in Manitoba.

For the last three years, Mercedes has run an annual event in the small town of Gimli called AMG Winter Sporting. Normally, automotive journalists and well-paying customers come to test Mercedes-Benz’s high-performance AMG lineup on a track built right on the frozen lake next to the locals’ ice fishing huts. There, brave drivers drift around the ice track to test the cars’ traction technology and winter handling.

But this year, Virginie Aubert, VP, marketing for Mercedes-Benz Canada, says her team wanted to expand the event to include a concert and foodie fare. The goal was to create shareable content that would, in turn, drive more purchase consideration and new prospects.

In addition to Mercedes fans who purchased a ticket, this year’s guest list included content creators and lifestyle journalists to help drive awareness of the event on social media. Each were given access to the frozen track in one of the new AMG cars. From there, they could take on the region’s rougher terrain in one of the automaker’s four-wheel drive 4Matic vehicles. The evening entertainment portion of the event included a Canadian-themed menu while the bands Arkells and Said The Whale performed.

“’Garage Gigs’ is a program we’ve had for three years where we invite Canadian bands to perform in a garage setting,” Aubert told strategy. “We added it to the Winter Sporting event and built a garage out of 80,000 pounds of ice to host it.” (Those who found the nighttime venue chilly were given warm-weather gear and furry blankets.)

Aubert said that adding more of a social focus “helps us reach our existing customers but also attracts new customers through the creators’ content. Social absolutely plays a role in lead generation and finding new fans… It helps us stay top of mind.”

The event opened Jan. 27 and continues until Feb. 18. It earned 12 million social media impressions less than a week after launching and has generated over 200 pieces of earned social coverage.

Mercedes-Benz also brought a number of its agency partners to the event this year to develop marketing content for the coming months. The Gimli Garage Gig and its snowy surroundings will serve as the setting for several cinema, online video and social ads. Agencies on site included the global creative AOR Publicis Emil, media agency OMD, PR shop Pomp & Circumstance and experiential agency Proof Experiences.