Audi of America is stepping away from poking fun at rivals in launch ads for its new A7 coupe-styled sedan. Thank heavens! That approach was getting tiring and snarky. With all the progress the brand has been making in recent year- enough already.
Audi CMO Scott Keogh told me at the NY Auto Show the company “had to” challenge rivals in ads because “it was a way to short cut” a rise for the brand. Now for the A7 launch, he says “we want to challenge boring design,” but without naming competitors.
The first television commercial for the car will break any minute. It’s based on Audi’s ad theme for the new A7: “A boldly designed car deserves a boldly designed world.” One magazine headline tells us “The world has some catching up to do.”
Keogh told me “we wanted to use this opportunity to challenge hum-drum design in the world, not just in automobiles.”
This bold design idea carries into digital- on Facebook- at http://A7bolddesign.com.
The A7 television spot from Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco, is simply delightful. Themed “ready the road,” it shows a montage of people preparing a thoroughfare for the arrival of the A7. They’re vacuuming, repainting the yellow lines and polishing man hole covers. One man even climbs on a traffic signal to chase away pigeons that might drop, shall we say, something undesireable on the car. The ad ends with the line “Luxury has progressed,” the same used for ads for the flagship A8 that broke during the Super Bowl.
Here’s a rough cut of the spot
Audi started the A7 blitz in Manhattan with a 15,000-square-foot LED interactive board in Times Square at 46th Street and Broadway, passed by more than a million people every day. Audi invited pedestrians to Tweet their ideas about where to find bold design and favorite bold place to the billboard via #BoldDesign. Their answers appeared on the billboard via an updated Twitter feed and people could also check into the billboard on either foursquare or Facebook Places. People could also send in their ideas via their mobiles, where they could check out locations suggested on the billboard.
You can check out the big board here-
Audi’s media agency, MediaCom in New York, devised and implemented this outdoor push, while the automaker’s social media shops, ZAAZ and M80, handled design and digital extensions.
While we’re on the topic of social media a big CONGRATS to Audi for having THE most engaged “fans” on Facebook, based on newly-released research by Visibli in February and March. Audi USA on Facebook got more “likes” to postings on its page, tallying more 225 “likes” per 100,000 fans, enough to top Justin Bieber in second place, Rapper Chamillionaire and Lady Gaga.
The A7, redesigned for the 2012 model year, is the second Audi vehicle in the brand’s plans to win more sales in the category for pricier and larger cars, or in what Audi calls the D segment. That’s Euro nomenclature. The new A7 carries a starting MSRP of $60,125, which includes delivery fees.
Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen announced at the NY Auto Show that 25% of the brand’s USA sales will come from pricier models- A6s, A7s and A8, by 2015 and that his annual sales target is 200,000 units.
There’s a lot of opportunity in this upper lux arena, Keogh told me. But why chase the upper range now? “The more someone will pay for your brand, the stronger your brand will be,” Keogh answered.
If Audi’s track record in the past 5 years is any indication, rivals should be nervous, very nervous.
Thanks to a broadened lineup of beautiful models with an unrelenting emphasis on quality details, along with aggressive advertising, Audi USA captured 10.5% of luxury intenders in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to just t6.1% in the final period of 2006, says GfK Automotive. That’s a 72% jump, folks.
INSERT AutoIntenders Chart
Audi has also boosted online leads in the same 2006 and 2010 periods by 30% to 56,003, says GfK, and weekly showroom foot traffic rose by 18% to 72,112.
From 2006 to late 2010, Audi jumped to second as the most cross-shopped lux brand, from seventh. Yes, BMW is still tops, but Lexus dropped from second to third and Mercedes-Benz from third to fourth.
All good stuff. We’ve seen auto brands rise and fall before. It’s not easy for a brand to stay at the top forever. And rising contenders must remember to stay on course and not spend too much time resting on laurels.
Stay tuned for the new A6 this fall.
JUST WONDERING: What was Honda and its ad agency, RPA, thinking with this launch work for the new 2012 Civic?
Yeah, we get there’s 5 different models for different kinds of people, but zombies and ninjas? Really? Well, we like the music anyway from Snake & Jet’s Amazing Bullit Band.
MAKING TRACKS: Tim Mahoney, who split from Subaru of America for the VW brand, where he’ll be CMO and chief product officer, reporting directly to President-CEO Jonathan Browning. VW’s Tim Ellis, VP-marketing, will report to Mahoney. Hmmm.
Mahoney was on a roll during his second stint at Subaru, starting in 2006- this time as senior VP and CMO. Make no mistake- Mahoney knows marketing and understands a brand needs consistent advertising. Subaru’s recent David Ogilvy Awards for Excellence in Advertising is a testament to Mahoney’s vision and ad agency Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis.
VW has some catchy ads, via Deutsch, Los Angeles, as demonstrated by the popular “Darth Vader” Super Bowl spot for the upcoming Passat. But the brand’s advertising needs more discipline.
As for Subaru, we fret about the fate of the “Love” theme ads, which have been in place since Mahoney returned there from Porsche. At Subaru’s press conference at the New York Auto show, “Confidence in Motion” was on the big screen in big letters as journalists waited for it to start.
Ikuo Mori, president-CEO of Subaru’s Japanese parent Fuji Heavy Industries, announced during the press conference that “Confidence in Motion” was Subaru’s brand statement. We sincerely hope the line doesn’t replace “Love,” since it certainly doesn’t carry the same emotional message.
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