Warrior-poet Henry Rollins has long been known for both his tough, muscular facade and the emotionally complex creative soul within. Discovering fame as punk band Black Flag’s frontman, Rollins has since become a master of spoken word and storytelling.
So while advertising pitchman might seem an odd fit at first for Rollins, it’s clear he was a perfect choice for Mercedes-Benz’s newest branded content series: “Tough Conversations,” an interview podcast and documentary series that analyzes what we mean when we describe someone as “tough.”
Created for the Australian market, where Mercedes is debuting its X-Class of trucks, the Mercedes campaign looks at the relationship between pickups (locally known as “utes”) and toughness, with Rollins probing beyond physical strength to get at the emotional and social aspects of resilience.
For the series, Rollins travels across Australia, interviewing everyone from surfer and shark attack survivor Mick Fanning to a farmer whose hard-scrabble rural upbringing was made all the more challenging by his realization that he was gay.
Here’s a highlight video promoting the series:
The campaign was created by Australian agency The Royals. Creative partner Nick Cummins tells The Drum that he’s proud to have worked on a project that forces his countrymen to confront the meanings and motivations behind toughness. “Many Australians are sick of the outdated stereotype of what tough means–hiding your emotions or working out at the gym till something bursts.”
You can subscribe to “Tough Conversations” on Apple Podcasts. A one-hour documentary from the campaign will air on Australia’s One network on April 18 and be available for streaming.
You can already watch Rollins’ interview with surfer Mick Fanning: