Mercedes-Benz reimagines iconic nodding dog ornament as virtual character

    • Mercedes-Benz at CES unveiled a partnership with Superplastic, a Web3-adjacent entertainment brand that creates virtual characters for social media and associated collectibles like toys and apparel, per details shared with Marketing Dive.
    • The two together have reinvented the Wackeldackel — a nodding dog ornament commonly put on the dashboards of cars — as Superdackel, a grinning 3D character adorned with a chain featuring a Mercedes-Benz pendant. 
    • Superdackel will appear in social media content, including an animated short, alongside existing Superplastic characters called Janky and Guggimon. Mercedes-Benz said the collaboration represents its efforts to explore new areas of arts and entertainment.  

    Mercedes-Benz is tapping into the groundswell of interest for virtual characters with the Superplatstic tie-up. Billed as an emerging entertainment brand, Superplastic wears a few hats, designing “synthetic” celebrities and influencers as well as high-end figurines, nonfungible tokens and experiences. The company has recently partnered with other noteworthy artists and designers, including the rapper Vince Staples and Tommy Hilfiger, according to its social media presence. 

    Superplastic’s anthropomorphic animal mascots are popular online, a level of cachet Mercedes-Benz could tap into by adding its own branded character to the roster. Guggimon, a lanky white rabbit with a shark-like grin, has over 1.5 million Instagram followers, while his bear companion Janky has over 1 million. 

    In a new animated short, the duo attempt to jack a Mercedes-Benz from a dealership showroom when they discover Superdackel inside the vehicle and quickly become friends with the nodding dog. The group then take joy rides around New York City, with Superdackel changing from a timid backseat rider into a confident persona over the course of their nocturnal adventures. Along with the digital content, Superdackel is making its in-person debut at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the form of an over 8-foot statue.  

    The concept serves to reimagine the Wackeldackel dashboard decoration first introduced in the mid-60s for the Web3 age. Strategically, Mercedes-Benz wants to “challenge expectations and interact with cultural pioneers and new audiences,” said Bettina Fetzer, vice president of communications and marketing, in a press statement. A press release indicates the partnership will expand throughout 2023.  

    Web3 and metaverse activations typically play to younger audiences who are digital natives and show a preference for channels like gaming and social media. Other large brands have experimented in the virtual influencer space. For its back-to-school and holiday campaigns, youth-oriented retailer Pacsun teamed up with the computer-generated influencer Lil Miquela. Frosted Flakes last year also converted mascot Tony the Tiger into a Vtuber, or virtual livestreaming creator.  

    Mercedes-Benz made some other big announcements at CES as part of its “Tech to Desire” showcase. The automaker plans to introduce its own global charging network for electric vehicles, with the initial push in North America expected to be completed by 2027.


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