With its campaign Mercedes-Benz is showing that its star-branded SUVs are optimally armed for every challenge – on the asphalt and in off-road terrain.

Making-of: “Make the best of every terrain”.

Five SUVs, five prominent personalities, five strong performances: with a lavish campaign Mercedes-Benz is demonstrating the strengths of its new SUVs. A report on the filming.
  • Making-of: “Make the best of every terrain”.

  • Famous five.

    Mud. Gravel. Asphalt. Extreme gradients. With its new campaign “Make the best of every terrain”, Mercedes-Benz is charting new territory and showing that its star-branded SUVs are optimally armed for all challenges on and off surfaced roads – from the GLA through the elegant SUVs in the guise of the GLC, GLE and the sporty GLE Coupé to the legendary G-Class. The SUVs are accompanied by well-known Brand Ambassadors who are perfectly matched to the character of each car. On board are: the explorer Mike Horn, the showjumper Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, the big-wave surf legend Garrett McNamara, Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and top model Petra Němcová. Take an exclusive look with us behind the scenes of the complex filming process, during which the crew had to deal with a whole new set of challenges, such as extreme weather conditions and hard-to-access routes to the filming locations in Portugal, Spain and on Mallorca. Perfect terrain for the five off-road stars from Mercedes-Benz.

    Off-road experiences with the G-Class from Mercedes-Benz.
    Behind-the-scenes filming with explorer Mike Horn.

    Mike Horn and the G-Class.

    Serra da Estrela. A mountain range in the East of central Portugal. Mist surrounds the summit region. It is the first filming location for the Mercedes-Benz SUV campaign “Make the best of every terrain”. The explorer Mike Horn is not the only one in his element: he makes it look like child’s play, the way he is seemingly unstoppable as he approaches the summit. Horn, whose firm handshake has left a lasting impression with the film crew, is not alone: a drone controlled by a member of the film crew from a safe distance is following him every step of the way. The terrain was precisely marked the day before by director William Armstrong’s team, so that Mike’s climbing expedition can be perfectly captured by the cameras. The filming work results in unique pictures for a TV ad with the legendary G-Class, which plays an important role in the life of the explorer: “In the places I go to there aren’t always any roads. So I need a car like this.” When the 70-strong film team dismantles the set at the end of the two days of shooting, it’s time for the next assignment with surfing legend Garrett McNamara.

    Garrett McNamara and the GLA.

    Nazaré in Portugal. The world-famous surf spot welcomes us with sunshine and blue skies. Nevertheless, big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara is standing in the pouring rain in his black neoprene wetsuit with his Mercedes-AMG surfboard. The film crew has positioned a rain machine in front of the surf legend for a scene involving stormy Atlantic weather. A short while later McNamara jumps into the water and surfs a few waves – the film crew follows him with the drone. A diving team captures the underwater scenes. Back on dry land there’s further filming: a fast-paced drive over the sandy beach – no problem for a compact all-rounder like the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

    Garrett McNamara stands in the pouring rain in his black neoprene wetsuit with a silver surfboard.

    Garrett, who can’t even resist having a surf during breaks from shooting, is visibly delighted at the end of the two action-packed days of filming. The performance of the dynamic GLA has impressed the surf pro: “That was really crazy! The GLA is the perfect car for tracking down the perfect wave.” We also go on the lookout. For the perfect road to take us to the next filming location.

    Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum on her horse during shooting for the Mercedes-Benz SUV campaign.

    Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and the GLE.

    An area of forest near Lisbon: dense fog, which the film crew is creating using a fog machine, impedes visibility. A fallen tree blocks the forest path. No problem for the horse trainer and showjumper Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum: she skilfully clears the obstacle on her horse for the cameras. A brief moment requiring intensive preparation. The horses which are being used for the scenes in the TV ad with Meredith were brought here a few days before filming to give them the opportunity to get used to the new environment. The effortlessly superior GLE evidently feels at ease here in the inhospitable terrain. Meredith sees the perfect companion in the elegant and versatile SUV: “The Mercedes-Benz GLE is the perfect car when travelling, not least because it enables you to tow a trailer. A splendid car for horse owners.” Two unique days of filming in the forest come to an end. The next destination is Mallorca. This is where we meet the man who is currently the fastest racing driver in the world.

    Lewis Hamilton and the new GLE Coupé.

    Lewis Hamilton is sitting at the wheel of the new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé. Before him is a picturesque serpentine road. Director William Armstrong’s film crew is prepared. There’s not a vehicle to be seen for miles – this stretch has been cordoned off for safety reasons. William Armstrong gives Lewis the green light, the cameras roll. Lewis takes every bend with effortless superiority – tracking down the racing line is in the Formula 1 World Champion’s blood. Shortly afterwards Lewis Hamilton sits on a workout device in a gym specially prepared for filming. His body is perfectly toned, so that he can defy the massive centrifugal forces in the Formula 1 cockpit and drive at the limits.

    Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton during filming for the SUV campaign.

    Lewis is the ideal ambassador for a car such as the GLE Coupé, which unites the effortlessly superior performance of a sports car with the comfort of an SUV beneath its muscular body. His verdict: “The GLE Coupé is very smooth to drive – almost like an S-Class Coupé. The car is great to handle, feels light and looks a bit younger than the GLE.”

    Petra Němcová and the new GLC.

    The Spanish capital, Madrid, forms the backdrop for the last two days of filming. The Czech top model Petra Němcová is in front of the cameras with the Mercedes-Benz GLC, which is also perfectly matched to the urbane flair of the fashion metropolis. Petra values the agility, the elegance and also the off-road capability of the GLC. Because, for her “Happy Hearts Fund” charity project, the top model is often out and about on unsurfaced roads in places such as Indonesia, Thailand and Chile, in order to rebuild schools for children affected by natural disasters.

    Top model Petra Němcová during filming in the centre of Madrid.

    Petra founded the aid organisation in 2006 after she herself narrowly survived the 2004 tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean. The shoot runs smoothly – and as the crew dismantles the set at the end of the day and heads off tired but satisfied towards the hotel, the last day of the campaign shoot is already breaking ...

    Top model Petra Němcová during filming.

    And cut!

    The final setting of the campaign is on the roof of an office building, high above the lively streets of Madrid’s city centre. A fan is pointing at Petra Němcová. She is in the best company: a large eagle is sitting on her left arm and is spreading its wings. The model, who is fortifying herself with a cup of green tea during a break from filming, remains calm and poses expertly for the camera. Director William Armstrong and his film crew are following her every move. The sunset delivers an unbelievably intense light for the scene. William Armstrong and his team are evidently pleased. Exciting yet strenuous filming days, accompanied by extreme heat, cold, fog and difficult-to-access locations, are coming to an end up here, above the rooftops of Madrid. There probably couldn’t have been a finer place for it.