Winners & Shortlists


Entrant Company BBDO PORTUGAL Lisbon, PORTUGAL
Advertising Agency BBDO PORTUGAL Lisbon, PORTUGAL
Name Company Position
Rui Silva/Marco Pacheco BBDO Portugal Creative Director
Rita Bastos BBDO Portugal Account Director
Marco Pacheco/Rui Silva/Pedro Gonçalves/Felippe Motta BBDO Portugal Copywriter
Ruben Rodrigues BBDO Portugal Art Director
Pedro Gonçalves BBDO Portugal Head Of Digital
João Vitória BBDO Portugal Cto
XPAND IT Telemetry Team
SAIS DE PRATA Photography

The Campaign

Every year, big wave rider Garrett McNamara challenges Nazaré’s giant waves in Portugal. This is where he set the world record when he rode a 34-meter wave. Mercedes-Benz is the official provider of his vehicles in Nazaré. Although Nazaré’s Zon North Canyon event has a very high profile Mercedes-Benz wasn’t getting the awareness they wanted as a sponsor. That was the challenge: making this sponsorship visible and relevant throughout the event for a broad audience. The idea we came up with was to create a Mercedes-Benz surfboard. A board thought specifically for Nazaré’s giant waves and Garrett’s style of surfing. It had to be the fastest board ever built. With Garrett and the engineering and design team at Mercedes-Benz AMG in Stuttgart we built and tested a very unique surfboard on par with the storied Silver Arrow line of vehicles. We developed a custom-made telemetry system that would allow us to register Garrett’s top speed. The media investment was minimal and only in digital. We didn’t have a campaign, we had a film on YouTube that told the story. All the media work was through PR connecting directly with local and international media. The outcome of those contacts was the presence of all broadcast tv stations from Portugal at Nazaré on the day he first used the Mercedes surfboard to interview him. Just by contacting online and offline media we got Merecedes-Benz values across to the relevant media outlets positioning the brand as innovative, youthful and irreverent, going against the common belief that Mercedes-Benz is a brand for “older people”.

The Brief

The main goal was to shine a light on a sponsorship that wasn’t getting enough attention although it was part of a worldwide event that was getting a lot of word of mouth. This was the criteria by which we would measure our success: how far could this Mercedes-Benz surfboard take us? We where pretty sure that we had an audience in surf and auto fans, but we also wanted to reach out to people that loved design and technology. Essentially we wanted to reach everybody, and fortunately we did.


Mercedes-Benz was already supplying Garret McNamara with transportation at Nazaré, but this sponsorship didn’t have any sort of visibility. We made a quantum leap from near-zero awareness in Portugal to being talked about all around the world. Besides primetime news shows and features in newspapers the surfboard marked it’s presence on The Huffington Post, The Verge, PSFK, Hypebeast, The Inertia, Surfer, Surfline, Surf Europe, Trip, Design Boom, Design Father, Red Bull’s website and Pamela Anderson’s twitter account. Searching for “Garrett McNamara Mercedes Benz” gets over 90,000 results on Google. The videos that tell the full story where seen by more than 200,000 people. According to Mention there are more than 2,000 references to the project on the Internet. Earned media surpassed one million euros of investment. And the amount of comments of individuals expressing their desire to own a surfboard manufactured by Mercedes-Benz is just impossible to count.


We started by leaking to Portugal’s leading surf magazine (Surf Portugal) some photos of the production of a secret Mercedes-Benz project being done by local shapers. We planted a seed towards the perception that something special was about to happen. Weeks later we addressed and validated the rumour with the release of official photos of the surfboard generating a first wave of mentions all around the world. We followed Garret at Nazaré as he officially received the surfboards from Mercedes and their debut in the sea. Alongside, Mercedes-Benz released the video that told the full story, a small documentary on how this project came to life that generated a new wave of earned media all over the world. Right after this Garret also published a video on social media that showed his vision of surfing and how the Mercedes-Benz surfboard fits in. Today the Mercedes-Benz surfboard can be seen in a wide assortment of media and contexts.

The Situation

Mercedes-Benz is one of the most prestigious auto brands in the world. It has an unprecedented history in the auto industry but also in motor sports. Given these premises we wanted to give relevance to a sponsorship that needed to shine under a brighter light, and prove that design, technology and the experience of Mercedes-Benz’s team could take them to new territories, and in this case to the sea. And with this knowledge we gave birth to a surfboard inspired by the legendary Mercedes-Benz race cars, the Silver Arrows. Mercedes-Benz started getting talked about all around the world, but this time not about the brand values that everybody knows and in niche segments in which they are not a top of mind brand.

The Strategy

The strategy was, from the beginning, to use the Internet media to get our message across believing that the story was interesting enough to generate earned media. Following this course of action, besides a few traditional press releases, we concentrated our communication efforts on sharing content such as photos and video through Mercedes-Benz’s Global digital channels that would guarantee an initial coverage of a broad audience.