Mercedes' Super Bowl Phone Game Sacked Over Technical Difficulties

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Automotive advertising and the Super Bowl are intrinsically linked. Car spots populate the commercial breaks, the most valuable player gets a free truck, and there is usually a contest or two sponsored by a major manufacturer. This year, Mercedes-Benz had a rather clever idea: to create a digital version of the hand-on game where the last participant to break physical contact with a vehicle (usually a Hyundai) gets to take it home.

Scheduled to coincide with kick-off, contestants would keep their fingers planted on their phones for the duration of the game for the chance to win a brand new Mercedes-AMG C43. The last person to allow their digit to stray from the moving photo would be awarded the car. But there was a problem — too many people tried to play the Mercedes-Benz Last Fan Standing game and it immediately crashed.

The strategy was devilishly clever. By forcing players to keep their entire focus on their phone for the entirety of the game, they could ensure their undivided attention as other automakers launched commercial after commercial at people who weren’t paying attention.

Many hoping to win the AMG went to social media to vent their frustrations. One Twitter user wrote, “Who wants to join me in a class action lawsuit against @MBUSA for falsely advertising their promotional giveaway?

In fact, there were a lot of social media posts claiming legal action, though the vast majority seemed to be confused participants wondering why the game didn’t appear to be working. Meanwhile, the communications department at Mercedes repeatedly tried to reassure everyone that the contest was moments away from firing up.

Unfortunately, it never did and the automaker was forced to release something vaguely resembling an apology. “The good news is, the Mercedes-AMG C43 is still in play,” Mercedes posted on Facebook page late Sunday night. “The bad news is, when you try to achieve a technological first, things can sometimes go wrong. In this case, there were just too many of you.”

The company went into further detail during an interview with Automotive News, saying “Unfortunately we ran into technical issues and we could not support the number of users trying to play,” via e-mail. “When we realized that many players were still having issues after the game was relaunched, we decided that rather than keep everyone hanging, we would turn it into a sweepstakes. This way all the enthusiastic fans who registered can have their chance to win the Mercedes-AMG C43 as promised.”

That’s still a bummer, especially if you were one of those people who waited around all night for your chance to win.

So I sat here and stared at my iphone for SIX HOURS…. just to be told it would be some random drawing… LOL… Missed the Super Bowl… Missed the party… Six hours wasted… Thanks for NOTHING… this was just a marketing ploy to get my info!!

— Kelley Mitchell® (@KMdrag) February 5, 2018

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Felix Hoenikker Felix Hoenikker on Feb 05, 2018

    For once, the super bowl was just that. An epic offensive shoot out. I pity the fools who chose to glue themselves to a smart phone and miss what will probably go down as the greatest super bowl ever.

  • Junkandfrunk Junkandfrunk on Feb 06, 2018

    How utterly entitled. "I DIDN'T GET MY FREE THING I'M GONNA SUE YA!"

  • Lou_BC I was looking at an extended warranty for my truck. The F&I guy was trying to sell me on the idea by telling me how his wife's Cadillac had 2 infotainment failures costing $4,600 dollars each and how it was very common in all of their products. These idiots can't build a reliable vehicle and they want me to trust them with the vehicle "taking over" for me.
  • Sobhuza Trooper Like fusion power, the I.D. Buzz is only 30 years away.
  • Lou_BC "respondents between 18 and 80 years old" Basically anyone deemed an adult who might be allowed to drive.
  • Lou_BC They will do fine if they come up with some cool sedans ;)
  • Mister They've got their work cut out for them. I live in a large metropolitan city of 1.2+ million people, the is a single Mitsubishi dealer. It's really more like a used-car dealer that sells Mitsubishi on the side. With the remarkably cheesy name of "Johnny Legends".