Last month, Mercedes-Benz dropped a new ad that was filmed in Southeast Oregon's Alvord Desert.
In it, Brendan Hickey and his father Bart, who is a blind car mechanic, travel west from Illinois for a joy ride over the empty expanse of land that is Alvord Lake, Oregon.
How did the company snag the iconic location for the shoot? By paying a small $440 rental fee to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
WW learned that figure by obtaining the federal document required for filming a movie on federal land. BLM granted that permit to Solomons Productions, the company that produced the ad.
At the start of the four-minute ad, Brendan says driving a car was at the top of his dad's bucket list.
Bart is shown reading a braille letter from Mercedez Benz, inviting him to drive one of their cars. The company calls Alvord Desert a place with "no boundaries," and "no speed limits," which is "even better than the German Autobahn."
The Alvord Desert is located in a rural corner of southern Oregon, just east of Steens Mountain in Harney County. The formation, which is roughly five miles long and 10 miles wide, is Oregon's largest playa lake—or large rainwater pool that fills and evaporates, leaving behind a crusted map of salt.
As Bart speeds through the barren desert at 110 miles per hour, fine-print appears: "Do not attempt! This promo video was made under professional conditions on a closed off area of public road traffic with special protective measures."
It's unclear what those safety precautions were, as Michael Campbell, a spokesperson for the Oregon division of BLM, says that a "monitoring" fee the company had to pay applied only to the time employees spent processing the permit—not ensuring safety on sight.
Regardless, watching the bright green sports car fly across the 10-mile-long expanse, it's clear why Benz chose to empty Oregon desert to film.
The effect of the ad, while ultimately marketing a prohibitively expensive luxury vehicle, is pretty heartwarming. Watch the full promo below.