Parents Who Let Mercedes Brand Son's Hand Were Smart Marketers

Matthew James hand

UPDATE: Matthew's father, Rob James, contacted us regarding some fact errors in the original source of this article, which The Stir used as a basis for its post. Mercedes helped connect the family to the maker of the bionic arm and negotiate a lower price, which is why there is a fundraising drive under way to help pay the difference. Touch Bionics has already fitted Matthew with the arm while his family raises the money. In exchange, Mercedes is partnering with the company, and they're backing the fundraising campaign.

Imagine tomorrow a company offers to slap their brand on your arm, where every family member, every grocery store cashier, every potential employer could see it. You're leaning toward saying "no way," right? So why did it make perfect sense for 14-year-old Matthew James' parents to agree to Mercedes-Benz stamping a Benz logo on their son's hand?

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Mercedes actually PAID for the hand, a prosthetic limb that will give the teenager a chance at a normal life. Born without part of his left arm, including the hand, Matthew had a simple prosthesis that worked like a clamp and big dreams. The kid was raising money for a fancy bionic replacement when he decided to follow the path of his favorite Formula 1 racers. He offered the car company a chance to "sponsor" him.

The result was the purchase of a hand he can use to catch a ball and tie his shoes like an average teenager. The hand can even be hooked up to a computer so Matthew can track the speed and strength of his movements. Mercedes-Benz paid 35,000 pounds (about $58,000) for the advanced technology ... and they get premium placement for their brand on his wrist for the pleasure.

Honestly? That's a small price to pay.

The fact that Mercedes said yes is kind of amazing, if you think about it. We hate on companies for trying to take over the world with their marketing initiatives, but it's business. They're there to make money. If they weren't, they'd cease to exist -- plain and simple.

We're already walking advertisements, every time we hoist our Coach purse or throw on a Gap sweatshirt. It's our choice to buy those branded products; essentially we allow ourselves to be used ... with little to nothing in return. Instead of kvetching all the time, it's up to us to do what the James family did: use our own power as a portion of the marketing process for our own good. Make it worth our while. Whether it's changing a disabled child's life with an expensive bionic hand or helping parents get out from the yoke of disabling school taxes with some football field advertising, it's not what companies get out of it but what we're letting them get away with that matters. We let companies take advantage of us as marketers; it's time we take advantage right back.

Check out what Matthew James got out of the deal:

Do you think the James family was in the right? Do you see places companies could help your community more?


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