If someone had told me a year ago that a postcard with a potato print on it would launch a search in social networks all over Germany, I would have called that person crazy. And if that someone had also said that my son would be the person writing that postcard – well, I think you already know what I would have answered. But that’s exactly what happened to me and my family.
Daimler's biggest search on social media
Young Alex going viral
This article was originally published in the Daimler blog.
My son Alexander loves Mercedes-Benz and wanted to tell that to the automaker – by writing a postcard with a potato print on it about his dream of driving a C 450 4MATIC.
5 min reading time
Today we’ll practice postcard writing
The whole story started in June 2018. Back then my son Alexander was in the second grade. In German class the children were learning how to write a postcard. Each one was given a blank postcard and asked to use the front and back sides to write and draw whatever they wanted. Alexander knew right away to whom he wanted to send his postcard – his favorite car brand, Mercedes-Benz. On the front of his card, he made an artful potato print of – what else? – cars. He used the back of his postcard to pen a few lines to the automaker in Stuttgart:
”Hello, Daimler AG, I’m already looking forward to sending you this letter. When I grow up I would like to drive a Mercedes-Benz too — a Mercedes-Benz C 450 4MATIC! Best wishes, Alex”
But how did my son find out the address so that his postcard would go to the right recipient? For Alexander, that was no problem! I didn’t know that Alexander’s school bag contains not only his schoolbooks and pencil case but also the sales catalogue of the local Mercedes-Benz dealer. That’s where he found the address of Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Untertürkheim. What he couldn’t know back then was that it took more than six months for the postcard to land in the right hands.
A small Mercedes fan with big dreams
The few lines on the postcard were only a faint suggestion of Alexander’s burning passion. Calling him a Mercedes fan would be an understatement. He’s got highways running all over his room, and driving along them are Daimler vehicles ranging from the Unimog and the Sprinter to the C-Class coupe. One short glance is all he needs to identify a model and its engine, whether it’s a model car or a real one. Alexander loves Mercedes-Benz, and it’s a big part of his life.
After he sent off his postcard on its long journey to Daimler, the long wait began. He watched our mailbox every day and welcomed the mailman more warmly than anyone else. But his long wait was (at first) not rewarded. The global automaker’s eagerly awaited reply did not materialize. My wife and I were in a tight spot. We could see Alexander’s disappointment in his favorite car brand growing deeper day by day.
So we decided to intervene. To put an end to the waiting, we wrote a few lines ourselves on behalf of Daimler, thanking Alexander for his postcard. We had no idea that Alexander’s original postcard had in the meantime arrived at Daimler headquarters in southern Germany.
47,000 people on a search for young Alex
When the postcard arrived in Stuttgart, the Group’s communications department was delighted by the combination of a potato print, scratchy printing, and the writer’s knowledge of a model’s exact name. Everyone immediately agreed: We’ve got to find Alex! But there was no return address on the postcard. So the Group launched an unprecedented search campaign. First, the postcard and a search request for Alexander were published on Daimler AG’s Instagram channel. Unfortunately, that didn’t work. A few calls and e-mails later, the Mercedes-Benz sales organization in Germany replied that it would be willing to support the search for “young Alex.”
Even the Group’s social media managers were surprised by what happened next. In just a few hours, the Facebook post of Alexander’s postcard went viral. The Daimler page followers were also determined to find Alexander! Almost 47,000 people took part in the search. That’s how many times the Facebook post was shared in the social network. The search campaign reached almost four million people.
The post, which was launched in December 2018, was the channel’s most successful social media posting ever.
The only ones who had no idea this whole hullabaloo was going on were my wife, our children, and I. That’s because we’re not really active in social networks. But then someone rang our doorbell. It was a man we knew from the neighborhood. He held his cell phone up for my wife to see and said, “I think someone’s looking for Alexander.” Of course she immediately recognized the postcard with Alexander’s handwriting. We allowed the man to send our contact information to the company, and just a few days later after our doorbell had rung, our telephone did too.
An invitation for Alexander that we couldn’t refuse
At the other end of the line was the social media manager of Daimler AG. She told us excitedly that she had been looking for Alexander for a long time and was thrilled to have found him at last. After the initial small shock, we were completely overwhelmed, because she had called not only to thank Alexander for his postcard but also to invite him and us to Stuttgart. After a quick family conference, we decided to help Alexander take advantage of this opportunity.
So in April I traveled with Alexander to Stuttgart, where we spent three days that my son will probably never forget. Alexander’s Mercedes-Benz dream came true. We visited the production plant in Sindelfingen and learned all about the company’s history during an exclusive tour of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. Of course the highlight for Alexander was the personal shuttle service in an AMG that had been organized specially for him.
In Untertürkheim he met the team that had conducted the long search and then made his dream come true. It was a once-in-a-lifetime meeting. We went home with unforgettable impressions and an even greater love for Mercedes than before. Since then, Alexander’s new favorite city has been Stuttgart. For me, the best moment of our visit was seeing Alexander’s eyes when he got his first look at the Mercedes AMG.
Mercedes has created a memory for our little “star” that he will never forget. He now has a vision, and later on he may be able to make the big Mercedes star an even bigger part of his life.