Mercedes-Benz and Audi conjure up two different kinds of light show

Audi-OLED-video

Most automotive ads use a peripheral approach to influence the attitudes of viewers, painting a dreamscape of persuasive images in the hope that the subsequent ‘good feeling’ opens the door to a more direct sales message.

But sometimes the best way to make a point, is to ‘get to the point’, so without further ado, here are two videos which do just that. The first from Mercedes, whilst the second is less of an ad and more of a product demo of Audi’s newest lighting innovation.

Mercedes Invisible A-Class

Last year Mercedes took three F-CELL B-Class vehicles for a 125 day journey around the world, and on the back of their success decided to begin production of this unique powerplant from 2014.

“But how do you promote the most innovative drive technology in the world?”

That’s the question posed by Mercedes in its latest video, produced to communicate the virtues of their (F-CELL) hydrogen fuel cell technology and help the public associate the technology with something meaningful in their lives.

Instead of placing it squarely in front of everyone and explaining its virtues, the company decided to make the car invisible. Placing a series of LED mats across one side of the vehicle, the Mercedes engineers mounted a video-shooting Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR camera on the other side, recording an image of the background displaced by the silhouette of the car.

Even without it being a perfect disguise, it was sufficiently cloaked for observers to notice its near invisibility.

The 90-second spot ends with the most compelling of message, “Invisible to the environment. F-CELL with 0.0 emissions.”

Seems like a cool stunt and a good way of illustrating the minimal impact on the environment of Mercedes’ F-CELL technology. With nearly 2.5 million views in less than 3 days, it’s proving to be a successful tool for promoting awareness.

However, with a silent engine and near invisible exterior, we assume they didn’t drive the car around too long, otherwise I could imagine some very creative insurance claim forms for when the inevitable happened.

Audi OLED light display

If you’re one of those people who find Audi’s colgate-white Daytime Running Lights r-e-a-l-l-y annoying, then the following video might not bring a smile to your face.

OLEDs are a form of light-emitting diode (LED), which have been around since those Casio watches back in the ’70s and are used in the instrument panels of most cars. The luminescent layer in an OLED contains a film of organic compounds rather than semiconductor crystals, and emit different coloured light in response to an electric current. Being only a few thousandths of a millimetre thick, OLEDs can be made transparent if necessary, making them useful when changing the colour of clear lenses.

The most impressive effect, seen at around 1 min 27 seconds into the video , is called ‘The Swarm’, in which the rear of the car is transformed into a large illuminated surface that reacts to every movement. It’s been compared to a swarm of fish (shouldn’t that be a school of fish?), and when the brakes are applied the ‘fish’ rush forward. The faster the car is driven, the more hectic the swarm’s movements. (what a great advertisement that would be to nearby law enforcement).

In this way the OLEDs tell the driver behind actively just what the car is doing. Audi’s Head of Lighting Electronics, Stephan Berlitz, says “It looks sensational but it’s also a definite safety feature!”

It will be a few years before we see this kind of lightshow on the road, they need to become around 5-times brighter if they are to serve as brake lights, so they’ll likely appear first as daytime running lights and side lights.