Car Industry

Mercedes pulls the plug on its 'Built in the USA' Sprinter ad campaign

The decision comes after the carmaker got a letter from the Truth In Advertising consumer advocacy group stating that most Sprinters are built overseas.

Unsurprisingly to us, this bad boy was built in Germany and not in South Carolina, no matter what Mercedes' ads said.
Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Of all the brands that we'd expect to run an advertising campaign talking about how its vehicles are "Built in the USA," Mercedes-Benz would pretty much be last among them.

However, that's precisely what it did with its 2019 Sprinter van campaign, and as it turns out, that's getting it into some hot water with Truth In Advertising, according to a report released by the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization on Monday.

See, Mercedes assembles plenty of vehicles in the USA. Most of its SUVs are assembled here, and a portion of the world's Sprinter vans are, too. The problem is that there are tons of brand-new Sprinters on sale here in the US that weren't assembled at Benz's factory in South Carolina but rather, in Germany. Even worse is that the Sprinters that are put together in South Carolina are done so using predominantly foreign parts.

"MBUSA is modifying the current marketing campaign to focus on the jobs and capital invested in the United States. MBUSA is proud of its investments in the United States and has addressed the concerns raised by Truth In Advertising by modifying the content of some of its marketing material," said Mercedes representatives, in a statement to Roadshow. "As always, MBUSA desires to accurately describe its products and technology to its valued customers."

To its credit, Mercedes almost immediately pulled its ad campaign after receiving a letter from Truth In Advertising that threatened to report the automaker to the Federal Trade Commission for violating its policy which states:

"Unqualified US-origin claims in marketing materials -- including claims that products are "Made" or "Built" in the USA -- likely suggest to consumers that all products advertised in those materials are "all or virtually all" made in the United States."

"Mercedes-Benz engineered an entire marketing campaign on the false premise that its Sprinter van was 'built in the USA,'" said Bonnie Patten, executive director, in a statement. "While the changes Mercedes-Benz made are welcome, there's no question consumers were misled by the automaker's deceptive marketing."