Mercedes-Benz promotes its what3words nav system

Who: Mercedes-Benz Canada, Publicis Emil (the bespoke agency network created specifically for Mercedes), IQ Productions, Makers.

What: A new video series featuring Canadian musical acts Charlotte Cardin, Allie X, and The Strumbellas promoting the luxury automaker’s use of “what3words” in-car navigation systems.

But what is what3words? Winner of the Innovation Grand Prix at the 2015 Cannes Lions, what3words has assigned three-word descriptors—such as filled.count.soap and coffee.fever.cans—to 57 trillion 3-by-3 metres squares of the planet (The Message‘s descriptor: union.atom.scramble), improving location accuracy and navigation.

When & Where: The first YouTube video featuring Montreal’s Charlotte Cardin appeared on July 15, with a second video featuring Allie X exploring Toronto debuting in mid-August. A third video featuring The Strumbellas (also exploring Toronto) will appear in September.

Why: Mercedes wants to create a perception of “youthfulness” around the brand, said Nathalie Gravel, national manager of marketing. This program, which connects Mercedes to an entirely new type of navigation system, is aimed at young adults 18-35. “We just want to make sure they’re aware of the steps Mercedes-Benz is taking to become more relevant to the modern consumer,” says Gravel.

Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler AG, took a 10% stake in what3words in 2018, becoming the first automaker to integrate the system into its vehicles. The service is available in select Mercedes vehicles equipped with he automaker’s Comand and MBUX infotainment systems.

How: The Mercedes program builds on its relationship with concert promoter Live Nation, which facilitated the partnership with the musicians. The videos create what Gravelle describes as an “intimate story” about their lives and how they are supported by Mercedes’ technology.

The first two-minute video shows Montreal musician Charlotte Cardin driving a Mercedes A-Class, and using the system to get to her favourite spots in the city using what3words coordinates like soulful.herb.drip and change.brochure.masters.

Screen shot 2019-07-31 at 11.31.36 AMWhy use 3 words for navigation? According to what3words, as many as 4 billion people around the world don’t have reliable street addresses or postal codes. While latitude and longitude coordinates do provide an accurate and universal location reference, the long number streams aren’t suited to human input.

The system has obvious commercial implications, but it also has societal benefits—such as the ability to provide pinpoint delivery of humanitarian aid or precisely locate key services such as hospitals and schools.

Three-word addresses are currently accepted in a range of mapping, taxi, navigation, sports and government services. “Everyone and everywhere in the world now has a simple address,” the company claims.

And we quote: “With the introduction of compact cars… Mercedes-Benz kind of shifted the way it was communicating with new audiences. This is a continuation of that. We want to make sure we’re engaging with this youthful demographic and trying to attract them to the brand.” —Nathalie Gravel, national manager of marketing communications and events, Mercedes-Benz Canada

Chris Powell