Audi sticking it to its rivals

Videos | February 2nd, 2009 by 28

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, the Steelers are already up on the Cardinals when it cuts to commercial and the viewer sees the following: With the …

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, the Steelers are already up on the Cardinals when it cuts to commercial and the viewer sees the following:

With the smash of a glass store front, Jason Statham appears, side steps some punk in time to jump into his late ’70s Mercedes sedan in time to see two disco thugs lumber into their Lincoln to give pursuit. After crashing the Merc, Statham sprints into about 1986 where he, dressed like a bald Don Johnson, car jacks the local tennis pro using his Zach-Morris-brick-cell-phone to no doubt call his girlfriend named Buffy. Next thing you know, we see Statham tuck and roll from the car and a beautiful Zinnobar Red E28 is flung through a billboard, Dukes of Hazzard/ Starsky and Hutch-style.

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But don’t fret, the Driver(should I just call him the Transporter?) finds himself in the mid 1990’s in time to steal a Lexus ES to escape what looks to be a jacked up GMC. After realizing that only old people are driving that kind of implied boring car, Statham slides around a corner to find the new Audi A6 only to snag the keys and take off, finally escaping his pursuers.

And that sums up Audi’s 2nd consecutive Super Bowl ad.

This year’s ad was a much better attempt than last year where, somehow, an Audi R8 severed the nose of a late 80’s Rolls Royce Corniche. I actually, liked this ad a lot and thought Audi took a clever jab at it’s competitors with a mix of pop culture and now-traditional stereotypes of BMW, Lexus and Mercedes.

With Jason Statham as the “star” throughout the commercial, Audi taps into the audience of the inexplicably popular Transporter movie series with which Statham has now become inextricably linked to the roll of Frank Martin, the Transporter who only drives Audis(or their related-by-marriage-brethren such as Lamborghini). In using that, Audi then plays on the stereotype that Mercedes are cars that peaked in the 1970’s and are only good for thugs, BMW’s had their hay day in the greed-is-good 1980’s, while cushy, boring Lexus cars grew to wide-spread popularity in the bland 1990’s.

Audi, of course, is now stating it’s intentions in the sport luxury market: Everyone else has been on top but now they’re done and we’re here to step up and be the car of now. Do I think this ad will give them more sales? No, better products and packaging lines will bring that. Did Audi trump their competitors with their enjoyable yet poignant ad? Absolutely.

28 responses to “Audi sticking it to its rivals”

  1. Nicolas says:

    Not to be mean, but “it’s rivals” does not look very good in a title of a blog that wants to consider itself serious. “Its rivals” is grammatically correct. Please make sure you get your “it’s” v. “its” sorted out ;-)

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Gil says:

    I’m over Audi…… :)

  3. bmidd says:

    Decent commercial. Oddly enough I believe the 1st Transporter movie he is driving a 7er.

  4. Horatiu B. says:

    @Nicolas: Honest mistake, we wanted to publish it fast and missed that. I apologize.

  5. Gragop says:

    @Nicolas: That one was my fault!@bmidd: I think he was driving either an E38 735iL or 740iL but with a manual gearbox – I loved that car.

  6. The Lee says:

    So the Merc understeered (pretty realistic), the e30 oversteered (pretty realistic, which is one of the reasons I love them), the Lexus wasn’t worth showing him driving (pretty realistic) and the Audi was able to escape some biker baddies?

    Why is it that the bad guys always ride enduro/motard bikes now-a-days?

  7. Jeff says:

    To continue on Nicolas’ theme:

    Instead of “roll” it should be “role” and instead of “hay day” it should be “hey day”.

    Also, an apostrophe should not be used to denote the plural of a number, such as the 1970s, or an abbreviation, such as “CDs”. However, an apostrophe should be used to indicate the missing numbers in “the ’70s”.

  8. Giom says:

    @Jeff: You know, this blog is just amaizing! Not only do we get the latest BMW news and stuff… but also grammar lessons!

    I love you guys… and this blog!

  9. Tuesmq says:

    It’s an interesting commercial, but I’m more disappointed in your blog where you did not check all the facts properly.

    Anyway, in the commercial the red BMW looks like a fun car to drive. It seems more like the driver didn’t know how to control the turn properly.

  10. Gragop says:

    @Tuesmq: At what point did we fail to check our facts properly?

  11. Brookside says:

    It was a great ad…tho I sort of winced at the portrayal of the pastel sweatered wussy BMW owner….ouch!

    Funny, I was just on the dealership lot of my local Audi dealer…which is a pair of converted double-wide trailers (truth) where the sales staff changes by the month and whose ownership has changed hands 3 times in the last 15 years. This is in a metro area of 2 million plus people.

    I have a friend who looked into investing in a dealership couple years ago- hired some merchandising people and found that Audi, at that time, was projected to capture 8-9% of the foreign premium automobile market in the US…my dealership was pulling in between 5-6%. Underperforming. Not only that- but Audi dealerships nationwide widely vary in their local market segments in percentage of market share. Not so BMW nor Mercedes. I’m sure there are people who read this blog who could really offer up some accurate figures that are more recent than mine.

    Bottomline: If Audi wants to seriously compete in the US they are going to have to standardize the quality of their dealerships, strengthen the resale value of their cars, and offer up better financial deals for new models. As is, I still see Audi being more of a boutique brand than a real mainstream BMW competitor.

    But, they do make better commercials than BMW.

  12. Horatiu B. says:

    @Tuesmq: It was a personal interpretation. We can’t always know exactly what they meant….some of the commercials are really subtle, others are not…see this

    which can go many different ways

  13. I find that BMW needs to learn from the Audi Marketing team. They had EXCLUSIVE ADS on the Obama Inauguration(which reached over 30million and was global) and also that meant internet and newspaper ads as well. They have a 1 minute ad on superbowl(which reaches over 15million at least) and also those online viewers like youtube. And they will now have the Audi R8 in the new transformers movie. This is great marketing and product placing. This marketing will pay off in the years that follow.

  14. Elio says:

    Nice. They got it a little too spot on with the Audi though… driven by an arrogant cock. Although the advert was based on handling characteristics, surely Statham should have fallen asleep at the wheel?

  15. Bike trader says:

    I find that BMW needs to learn from the Audi Marketing team.

  16. Brookside says:

    Wrong- BMW has nothing to learn from Audi.

    BMW and Audi use two very different advertising strategies. Audi’s media presence is like a Mark McGwire- it’s all about the homerun – the big showy gesture. Audi books advertising in the US on the gigundo spectacles….Obama’s Inauguration, the Super Bowl, that aim at events where there is an audience….multiple viewers in one location and banks on there being a conversation amongst the audience who might (or might not) be paying attention when the program cuts to commercials.

    BMW targets the internet and to a lesser extent the print media…they want the digital buzz. And they work it like no other car company. BMW employs 2 people who schill the marque on the internet (Scott and Eni over on GCZ). BMW leaks spyphotos (most of which are carefully timed releases orchestrated by the company) that pop up on the web almost immediately. I’m sure Horatiu could have a lot to say on how this actually works because he scooped the internet with debut Z4 photos).

    BMW goes to the incredible trouble of cladding its test mules in those fiberglass fat suits- & it’s not about disguise…c’mon…it’s about a slow strip tease to ratch up desire on the part of aficienados who are web-savvy. Who spread (via internet) these photos to friends and who basically become part of the advertising process.

    BMW’s investment in targeting the internet has helped foster a climate to create sites like this. They have a deep understanding of 21st Century communication in a way that hasn’t even occurred to Audi. Go to any Audi site- there’s no news…or what passes for news is the republication of official press releases.

    At BMW you have a company controlled by the Quandt family and run on an everyday basis by Suzanne Quandt who has multiple degrees in marketing. BMW has invested in design with probably the most talented people in the field. Audi design on the other hand has brain-drain…basically you serve your time in Ingolstadt and use those creds to cop a better (or higher paying ) job. JMays, Peter Schrier, Freeman Thomas are examples of very good lead designers who jumped from Audi’s autocracy in the past 10 years.

    Who buys BMW? Who buys Audi? The profiles are similar and different. And within those brand profiles are differences. Audi has chosen a more conservative manner to push brand awareness…one that, (imho) doesn’t have the payoff that BMW’s strategy has.

  17. Brookside says:

    AutoWeek reporting that Bangle has resigned from BMW.

  18. Matski says:

    Well my punctuation, grammer and spelling aren’t exactley brilliant, so instead of picking holes in the side of the article I’ll go with..

    Zannibar Red…? Surely that’s Zinnobar Red…?


    As for the Advert, IF I could ignore the BLANTANT PROPOGANDA that Audi have woven through nearly every second of this advert (and the trailer for it), then I might quite enjoy it. It’s not only Pathetic that Audi fan boys see this only as an innocent avert, but infuriating that Audi are stooping to these childish tactics of slagging of other brands in their advert, it’s arrogant and cock-ish… “Yah, ve are better zan zem, yes, look at zer inferior cars zat leave ze road if it is vet, ha ha ha aren’t ve just so Klever!” Audi… I hate ’em!

  19. Gragop says:

    @Matski: Damnit! I knew I should have double-checked the spelling of the name…

    Well, I my mind I’d take a BMW over an Audi any day but I do give them credit for being a somewhat well-rounded company in their product line and attempts at clever advertising. The ad doesn’t bother but it just tells me that Audi intends to take BMW out at the knees to pull ahead in the US market.

  20. Horatiu B. says:

    @Gragop: Wait Andrew, there is one more……nah, just kidding :))

    Now, can we focus on the subject? Here is one thing I learned in marketing: Ads do not ALWAYS reflect the reality. They are used mostly to illustrate a certain image or to give a biased impression.

    The debate between Audi vs BMW can go on and on and ON. I said it many times, Audi has come a long way, their latest designs are great, they improved the quality of their engine…but you can’t really say that they are up there yet.

    Are they considered a luxury car in Germany? This is a serious question, and if someone that lives there can answer it, I would appreciate it.

  21. Matski says:

    This is my thought process

    Audi are trying to put across the idea that they are better than the rest (BMW, Mercedes & Lexus primarily) therefore Audi obviously believe they all share the same customer base (or they wouldnt need to compare themselves to the other brands)… they are trying to sell cars to people by making them feel inferior/un-cool/old/stuffy/arrogant for not buying an Audi (this is reflected by ‘meet the beckers’ and the SuperBowl Ad). They’re not trying to appeal to a different market, they are trying to appeal to the same one – but trying to instill a feeling that buying anything other than an Audi would reflect badly upon YOU! Kind of “come and join our club, we’re much cooler than those ones”

    Although you can argue that this is a well thought out agressive strategy that may work… it also comes across as incredibly arrogant and mis-educated. Audi hid under the banner of “Progress” by comparing different era’s but, ignore the styling of each decade and you have them simply saying “Merc’s will crash, BMW’s will crash (faster) and Lexus’ are for boring old people!”

    I like the idea of the advert alot, if they had made the cars look like generic automobiles, or used older Audi’s then it would have been entertaining, I love car chases! I don’t recall in the ‘Hire’ series BMW doing the same with any other brand (except maybe the muscle car that Gary Oldman drives as the Devil!).. they used other BMW’s for chase cars etc.

    So in ‘meet the beckers’ they (Audi) insulted the drivers/owners (of other brands), and in the SuperBowl ad they slammed the products…

    Audi have the attitude of a company that wants to play hard ball.. except it seems they only want to do it on their own terms, when the competition has no obvious re-course without stooping to as low a level as Audi… 2 examples (very wide)
    1) “Meet the beckers” how would BMW respond, without lowering themselves to ‘name-calling’ also.
    2) (off topic) Anyone remember when Audi pulled all their cars from a DTM race because they thought Audi were being too aggresive!!!!!!!!! !!! HAVE THEY NEVER WATCHED THEIR OWN KRISTIAN ABT DRIVE!!

    The odd tongue in cheek pot-shot is as much a nod of respect as it is an advert.. such as the adverts that came out with BMW and Audi congratulating each other for various ‘Car of the Year’ awards.

    If it weren’t for this attitude they have, I would come to respect them, as I did with Mercedes. Getting away from Stereotypes, all three of these marques focus on the same things, quailty and performance.. they are also all exclusive (to a certain degree – as this is dictated by the price). They all offer a wide, well structured range of well-made desirable cars, Lexus will join the party, but they are maybe a few years off in terms of global markets and breadth & depth of product range. Audi should sell their product using positive promotion, not negative name calling.

    I’ve ranted a bit! but it does p*** me off!

  22. Gord says:

    In defence of BMW’s marketing.

    Anybody remember Rampenfest ? :D

    Sure BMW doesn’t have Superbowl adds, but look at BMWWebTV/ BMW SauberF1Team on youtube. They have loads of videos, like all those videos where the designers talk about their cars.

  23. Mo says:

    Dear Nicolas,

    I think it should be “its’ rivals”…showing possession

  24. Tuesmq says:

    Regarding fact checking, I was referring to the line that “he only drives Audi” in Transporter movies; he drove a BMW 7 (with a manual) in the original Transporter.

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  26. Lilmanginelli says:

    Finally a great commercial that shows the true best in german engineering!  the underdog is coming on top! jason statham whips it. I find it so comical that the lexus was not even worth driving, bc it isnt.

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