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Find a job, buy a house, get married, have children – these are all the traditional milestones of adulthood. But with the job market competitive, house prices skyrocketing and attitudes towards marriage and children an increasingly grey area, the milestones are shifting. Buying a car is similarly an aspect of ‘adulting’ that many young people are giving up on – which seems fitting in light of Mercedes-Benz latest campaign. We explore the insights behind the campaign, which uses rapper A$AP Rocky to throw out the rulebook when it comes to markers of maturity.

The campaign – entitled ‘Grow Up’ – features an ongoing series of ads conceived by Berlin agency Antoni, beginning with the statement; ‘As you get older, life becomes all about following a few simple rules’. It highlights the more traditional benchmarks, and how they’re easier said than done. The ads feature familiar faces from the worlds of art, music and drama – with rapper A$AP Rocky starring in both the trailer and the first in the series, ‘Get a Job’, which tells the tale of little boy Rakim “who blazed his own trail to the top with nothing but a dream beat.” Mercedes’ many different non-traditional role models form the backdrop to these narrations.

The remaining installments look at the unrealistic expectations surrounding love, parenting and the perils of climbing the corporate ladder – mirroring the everyday concerns of younger generations. After all only 29% of 18- to 24-year-olds affirm the importance of matrimony, and just 13% of Gen Yers say their career goals involve working up the ranks to become a CEO or president. The brand describes the target audience as ‘people caught between the coolness of adolescence and the squareness of adulthood.’

Recognisable faces in the ad campaign sympathise with the struggles faced by Gen Y
Mercedes-Benz (2017) ©

Ultimately, Mercedes is aligning itself with younger generations by demonstrating an understanding of the trials of young adulthood. “With ‘Grow Up,’ we’re reinterpreting traditional values and attitudes towards Mercedes,” says Dr Jens Thiemer, VP of marketing, “while showcasing their modern-day interpretation and relevance within generations X and Y.” And with the number of young people bothering to get a driving license on the decline, painting a picture of an adulthood they both aspire to and can see themselves in makes perfect sense.


Hannah Callaghan is an account executive at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. When she’s not helping clients navigate the deepest layers of the Canvas8 Library, she’s probably binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race or befriending other people’s dogs.

20 Mar 17
2 min read

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