March 24th, 2011

Teen Dream: Driver's Ed, Courtesy of Mercedes

Ad Week

Marketing 101 (along with actual demographic research) teaches that brand loyalty tends to be established at a young age—the painfully image-conscious adolescent years, especially. This is why a number of nervier adult brands have rolled out youth extensions: Pink by Victoria’s Secret, for instance, or Teen Vogue, or U.K. brand King of Shaves’ recently introduced Kings 1965, a line of shaving products targeted at teen boys hard at work on their first whiskers. Well, get ready youth of America: Mercedes-Benz is the latest grown-up brand to want you.

No, the iconic German automaker isn’t cranking out a new line of skateboards. Rather, Mercedes-Benz USA just announced the creation of a teen driving school that’ll open later this year (cost and location undisclosed). The project is a pond jump from the U.K.-based Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy—also aimed at youth—that opened in 2009. Some 4,500 peach-faced motorists have taken that course, which surely beats the sleep-inducing 30-hour class we all endured during high school. Seventy-nine percent of the U.K. school grads passed their road test on the first try, which is nearly double the U.K. average of 43 percent.

Of course, Mercedes’ stated aim for the U.S. teen-driving school is to turn out safe drivers, not the next Dale Earnhardt. “The skills required to simply get a license do not fully prepare young drivers to meet the demands of the road,” according to Daimler AG’s senior manager Alexander Hobbach—and who are we to doubt the man?

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