Mercedes celebrates Bertha Benz in honor of International Women’s Day

Bertha Benz, the wife and business partner of Mercedes-Benz founder Carl Benz, was an automotive pioneer, and a campaign by the automaker honors her memory on International Women’s Day.

The four-minute film, ‘The Journey that Changed Everything’, chronicles Bertha Benz’s journey in her primitive carriage, in what is considered the world’s first long-distance drive. The global brand film celebrates the confidence and vision of Bertha Benz, who was instrumental in Mercedes-Benz’ foundation.

The film tells of the day Bertha Benz drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim, Germany in 1888. Early one morning, Bertha took her two sons out for the 12-hour, 106-km / 65-mile trip. She understood the potential of her husband’s invention and was determined to prove it worked at a time when people were skeptical of this new technology.

Shot like a classic Western with modern stylization, the film conveys the fear and confusion of the people who witnessed Bertha’s incredible journey, and dramatizes one of her stops along the way. As she drives into a small town, a girl yells that there is a “witch” coming. Entering town, the motorized carriage breaks down.

Mechanics didn’t exist, so she went to the pharmacy to find fuel. She tracked the pharmacist down in the local tavern and requested 10 liters of ligroin to get it moving again. Even as the townspeople looked upon her with a mix of wonder and disgust, she soldiered through the moment, using her hat pin to clear fuel lines, and her garter for insulation before successfully driving off. Through her dedication, she paved the way for the invention of the Benz Patent Motor Car.

The story of Bertha Benz is the latest in an ongoing transformation of Mercedes-Benz’ communications with Berlin agency Antoni. Since the ‘Grow Up’ campaign launched in 2017 and more recently ‘In the Long Run’ and ‘Justify Nothing’, the automotive brand has been shaking off its ‘staid old man’ image, aiming to appeal to a younger audience and more women through a new style of storytelling, according to Mercedes.

The film was directed by Sebastian Strasser.

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