CHAPTER TWO: The Mercedes-Benz #mbcollective campaign is going into its second chapter, with Susan Sarandon moving into the Generation Now driver’s seat occupied by M.I.A. last season. On Wednesday the actress was in Berlin to officially launch the car maker’s new emotionally and electrically charged fashion campaign during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, joined by her chosen Generation Next protégé, documentary film maker and RYOT co-founder Bryn Mooser, and the campaign’s photographer and film maker, Luke Gilford. As for the automotive link, it’s Concept EQ, which stands for electric intelligence and is the new electrically powered car brand being developed by Mercedes-Benz. Also on hand were four of the five young designers of Mercedes’ International Designer Exchange who are another creative part of the #mbcollective : William Fan, Ran Fan, Anna October, Steven Tai and Xiao Li.
At an exclusive but extremely congenial dinner at Soho House, Sarandon quipped, “I’m thrilled they considered me Generation Now not Past.” She added that in talking to Mercedes, “it was clear they are forward thinking, which seduced me.” But basically, Sarandon talked to the guests about the issues which engage and move her: her experiences in Lesbos last year talking to and filming refugees to help give their stories a human face; her decision to bring ping pong tables to refugees in Cannes, and her Berlin visit, the day before, to the volunteers at the refugee centers she had met earlier during the first wave of asylum seekers entering Germany.
Mooser said he immediately said yes to being part of the campaign, “as I always say yes to anything Susan asks me to do. She uses her opportunities to talk to people wisely. But also, as with the ping pong tables, she remembers that in addition to food, water and medical supplies, it’s also important to hand out fun, and the things that build a community again.”
Had Sarandon ever expected to be the face of a car campaign? “No,” she said bluntly. “But this was an electric car which made it more interesting. It’s a very classy brand plus there’s the fact they’re going forward. It’s (EQ) not a hybrid, but completely electric and will be in every Mercedes category and price range by 2018.” She didn’t have a chance to test drive the prototype, and now that her kids are grown up and she’s living in the city, she’s not shopping for wheels. “But I definitely wouldn’t say no if they wanted to lend me one,” she remarked.