American Marketer


Mercedes-Benz highlights customer appreciation with Gull Wing Group partnership

June 20, 2011

300 SL Coupe


Mercedes-Benz is celebrating brand enthusiasts Gull Wing Group’s 50th anniversary by helping them recreate a famous photo taken at their first meeting in Fort Point Park in San Francisco.

The automaker will show its appreciation to the loyal fan group by coordinating the picture recreation in what is now a national historic site run by the United States national park services. Mercedes-Benz is also donating money for 125 kids to attend summer camp in San Francisco.

“The reasoning behind supporting this anniversary was two-fold,” said Christine Chase, publicist for the national brand and classic public relations of Mercedes-Benz USA, Montvale, NJ.

“The Gull Wing is a vehicle which represents our leadership, design and performance,” she said.

“It’s a very prominent vehicle in our history and we are also currently celebrating the 125th anniversary of the brand as a whole,” she said.

Mercedes manufactured only 1400 Gull Wing vehicles from 1954-1957.

The Gull Wing Coupes and Roadsters, with their rare upwards-lifting doors, are iconic and some of the most high-sought-after Mercedes models.

Unlike any other

The original picture was taken in 1961, the year of the group’s inception, at the Fort Point Park that looks out towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

The recreated picture

Founded by Ernie Spitzer, the Gull Wing Group was dedicated to information about driving and maintaining the 1954-1963 300SL Gullwing Coupes and Roadsters.

At its founding, the group comprised 18 owners of the 300SL Coupe.

Since then, the group has grown to more than 600 enthusiasts around the world, with 100 of the members and their 24 Gull Wings and 14 Roadsters taking part in the new picture.

Gull Wings also now covers the restoration of the vehicles, holding an annual conference dedicated to education of the model.

The car encompasses the history and showcases the legacy of the Mercedes brand, according to company.

“The picture gave us the opportunity to see old friends again, to honor Ernie Spitzer, GWG Founder, and to drive the cars in unison over the Golden Gate Bridge,” said Gary Estep, international business manager of Gull Wing Group International, Chico, CA.

Mr. Estep’s 1958Fire Engine Red 300SL Roadster is featured in the picture and lead the following bridge parade.

Two Gull Wing cars

Engineered to move the human spirit

In addition to connecting emotionally with some of the brand’s most devoted consumers, Mercedes also recognized the group’s dedication by donating 125 scholarships to the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department’s educational summer camp programs.

After celebrating the Gull Wing group’s history, the car manufacturer also wished to look towards the future which was the reason behind the scholarships, Mercedes claims.

Mercedes also sponsors the Gull Wing group’s annual convention.

The automaker works to sponsor events for an SLK 280 enthusiast group and the owners of Mercedes group.

“These are our customers, we like to support them whenever we can,” Mercedes’ Ms. Chase said.

The Gull Wing Group was deeply touched by Mercedes’ involvement in the anniversary.

“It was an emotional high,” Gull Wing’s Mr. Estep said. “The thing we all have in common is love for the engineering of these 50 year old sports cars, driving them regularly, and enjoying the spirited company of the other members.

“We like to kick tires, talk about adventures and party,” he said.