BMW and Mercedes-Benz have had a raucous 100-year-old rivalry that disproves the old rumor that the Germans have no sense of humor. In a recent post on BMW’s merchandise website, the company advertised a Halloween costume for Mercedes-Benz cars, a car cover that makes it look like a BMW M5. Although the cover will fit many non-BMW cars, the photo clearly shows a Mercedes-Benz underneath. This is just the latest salvo fired from Bavaria aimed right at the three-pointed star.
Like many great rivals throughout history, it is really fun to watch. Back in 2016 when BMW was celebrating it’s 100th birthday, Mercedes posted on Facebook a congratulatory video, with a stinger at the end.
It didn’t end there for the Mercedes ribbing, around the same time Daimler offered BMW employees free entry to the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart and free parking on the hill directly in front of the museum if they turn up driving a BMW. Despite their differences, the two companies have always played fair and with a healthy dose of mutual respect. That is probably why it is so fun to watch two marketing departments seek to outplay each other.
Of course, business is business and two have done their fair share of poaching critical employees from each other, mainly car designers. Renown car designer Paul Bracq first designed a number of Mercedes-Benz models in the 1960s and early 1970s before becoming the design director at BMW. Karim Habib, who is currently the chief designer of the BMW brand, also had a short stint at Mercedes-Benz between 2009 and 2011.
Despite their differences, the two continue to optimize both the stereotype and to symbolize the best in German engineering. It is hard to imagine that either company would be as successful as they are without the other, the car-buying public rallies around its preferred brand and nothing splits the consumer base like a good, healthy rivalry. Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Chevrolet and Ford, Toyota and Nissan; it plays the same in Europe as it does all around the globe.
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