PROMOS: Mercedes Pulls A Controversial Ad

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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Commercial

Update: Mercedes pulled the ad. From Automotive News:

Mercedes spokeswoman Donna Boland told Automotive News Thursday afternoon that the automaker has decided to take the ad out of the E-class campaign rotation because of the claims.

“The new 2017 E class is a technological tour de force and is a significant step towards achieving our vision of an accident-free future,” Boland wrote in an email. “We do not want any potential confusion in the marketplace to detract from the giant step forward in vehicle safety the 2017 E class represents.”

Below is our take on it before the ad was pulled.

There was a time when you ordered a cup of coffee at the drive-thru and you got in a paper cup that had nothing more than a picture on the outside. It was probably a bunch of coffee beans or maybe the logo of the company who produced your cup of Joe. Then human frailty got involved and we have warnings about our hot coffee being, well, hot.

There’s also peanut butter with warnings that it does, surprisingly, contain peanuts, in case you were under the impression it was made with cherries or something. We have ridiculous warnings on today’s products. Next up is self-driving technology.

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It all started with Tesla’s AutoPilot. This snazzy bit of engineering lets the car drive itself, for the most part. If you read the instructions, which is something you should do when trying out a new feature on a rather large hunk of metal you’re going to send speeding down the highway with you inside, it’s clear that your hands need to remain on the wheel.

Despite this and a flurry of media coverage about how the technology works, there have been several accidents with AutoPilot. The incidents are under investigation, but in at least some of them, the drivers freely admit they didn’t have their hands on the wheel.

Consumer advocacy groups now have their sights set on self-driving technology.

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-class has a driver assistance feature called Drive Pilot. It includes adaptive cruise control and automatic steering that will keep the car in its lane following traffic.

Update – the ad has been pulled

This commercial is what has everyone’s knickers in a twist. What we see is the Mercedes-Benz cruising down the highway as the driver lets go of the wheel. We also see him adjusting his tie as the car self-parks. The text at the bottom of the screen has a disclaimer reading, “Vehicle cannot drive itself, but has automated driving features. The system will remind the driver frequently to keep hands on the steering wheel. Always observe safe driving practices and obey all road traffic regulations.”

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Folks from Consumer Reports, the Center for Auto Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, and former National Highway Transportation Safety Administration administrator Joan Claybrook sent a letter to the FTC about the ad. They say it’s confusing and consumers won’t understand how it works. They criticised Mercedes’ print ads for the car, too.


Common sense dictates that anyone who purchases the new E-Class take a look at that handy-dandy owners manual or at least ask a few questions about Drive Pilot before they leave the showroom. Some will do this, but others won’t.

The ones who don’t ask questions are the same people that don’t know coffee is hot and then cry foul when they burn their tongues. Self-driving technology is new, and people should ask questions so they understand it before they use it. It is common sense.

Commercials aren’t the problem. It’s people who don’t read the manual or follow directions or use an iota of common sense in their daily lives. Expect many more warning stickers in the future.