Will this dilute Mercedes's reputation as a luxury brand?
"Not at all—having a unique design in this price point gives us a strong foothold. If you imagine the high end of nonluxury cars, it's not far off from where the CLA is. We feel like there's a great opportunity for a customer to be able to move on up to a luxury car."
How are you planning to reach this new consumer?
"You hit the social media very hard with a car like this because that's where these customers are hanging out. We did a YouTube video series with [filmmaker] Casey Neistat, and we're also doing an Instagram production, which is really cool."
Besides the price, why would someone want this car?
"Style is the first thing. But at the same time, a car at this price point also has to meet the rationality test: fuel economy, utility, fit, and finish.
A Mercedes is always going to be an emotional purchase—if you look at the car, you won't find any corners being cut."
Same Brand, Different Audiences:
The Mercedes CLA shares some DNA with the CLS, which starts at around $72,000. But their commercials have far less in common.
"Kate Upton washes the new Mercedes CLA . . . in slow motion."
Men with Sports Illustrated swimsuit-issue covers on their walls.
"To escape from daily routine, you play golf. But what does a golf pro do?"
Men who know that the guy in the ad is professional golfer Adam Scott.
A version of this article appeared in the November 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.