Mercedes’ Super Bowl Phone Game Sacked Over Technical Difficulties

Automotive advertising and the Super Bowl are intrinsically linked. Car spots populate the commercial breaks, the most valuable player gets a free truck, and there is usually a contest or two sponsored by a major manufacturer. This year, Mercedes-Benz had a rather clever idea: to create a digital version of the hand-on game where the last participant to break physical contact with a vehicle (usually a Hyundai) gets to take it home.

Scheduled to coincide with kick-off, contestants would keep their fingers planted on their phones for the duration of the game for the chance to win a brand new Mercedes-AMG C43. The last person to allow their digit to stray from the moving photo would be awarded the car. But there was a problem — too many people tried to play the Mercedes-Benz Last Fan Standing game and it immediately crashed.

The strategy was devilishly clever. By forcing players to keep their entire focus on their phone for the entirety of the game, they could ensure their undivided attention as other automakers launched commercial after commercial at people who weren’t paying attention.

Many hoping to win the AMG went to social media to vent their frustrations. One Twitter user wrote, “Who wants to join me in a class action lawsuit against @MBUSA for falsely advertising their promotional giveaway? #LastFanStanding.”

In fact, there were a lot of social media posts claiming legal action, though the vast majority seemed to be confused participants wondering why the game didn’t appear to be working. Meanwhile, the communications department at Mercedes repeatedly tried to reassure everyone that the contest was moments away from firing up.

Unfortunately, it never did and the automaker was forced to release something vaguely resembling an apology. “The good news is, the Mercedes-AMG C43 is still in play,” Mercedes posted on Facebook page late Sunday night. “The bad news is, when you try to achieve a technological first, things can sometimes go wrong. In this case, there were just too many of you.”

The company went into further detail during an interview with Automotive News, saying “Unfortunately we ran into technical issues and we could not support the number of users trying to play,” via e-mail. “When we realized that many players were still having issues after the game was relaunched, we decided that rather than keep everyone hanging, we would turn it into a sweepstakes. This way all the enthusiastic fans who registered can have their chance to win the Mercedes-AMG C43 as promised.”

That’s still a bummer, especially if you were one of those people who waited around all night for your chance to win.

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