2010: Audi Plans To Stay In The Picture
Audi has big plans this year as it continues down a road toward making the U.S. diesel- -- and Audi- -- friendly while readying the market for its next flagship, the 2011 A8 sedan.
Scott Keogh -- VP marketing for the Herndon, Va. automaker, who spoke with Marketing Daily from the Detroit Auto Show, where the A8 was unveiled Monday -- says plans for the year include everything from an Audi-produced documentary about the U.S. Olympic ski team to a big product-integration and marketing plan around the forthcoming "Iron Man II" film.
The company has been marketing diesel TDI engines through its Le Mans racing program -- its race cars are diesel-powered -- and through a 2009 marketing campaign promoting diesel as a green powertrain. The message says, among other things, that if only 30% of people drove clean diesel, 1.5 million barrels of oil per day would not go into auto fuel tanks. Keogh says the effort has paid off. "If you look at the mix of TDI Q7 [SUV], about 43% of all Q7's are TDIs, and 53% of the A3 is TDI, so we feel strongly that TDI is being validated on the street."
Keogh says TDI is taking hold in urban markets. "What we are seeing is -- particularly in creative-class markets like Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, and Denver -- a very broad acceptance of this. We had thought it would appeal initially among people with a racing background or tech enthusiasts. But we are seeing an emotionally driven buyer who wants to do the right thing."
If the initial diesel campaign asserted that diesel belongs in the alternative-fuel conversation, the message with the A3 TDI campaign, which includes an ad during the forthcoming Super Bowl, is that "TDI doesn't just belong in the conversation, it is part of the solution," says Keogh.
This year, Audi will continue a strategy the company began in 2007 to focus media on tentpole opportunities, including a media buy on coverage of the Winter Olympics aligned with skiing, followed by an interactive campaign around March Madness NCAA basketball. "And through the year we will continue our Sunday night NFL package because we still believe that it's important to get out into the popular American-media conversation; that's first and foremost," says Keogh.
First up is the Audi-produced documentary "Truth in Motion" about the U.S. Ski Team and its preparations for Vancouver. The documentary airs on Jan. 30 on NBC, and then will be available for download on iTunes and viewable on Hulu.com. Directed by Brett Morgen, director of film "The Kid Stays in the Picture," the hour-long documentary will also run on cable networks as well as Hulu.
While Audi branding is extensive in World Cup ski competitions, there will not be Audi branding during the Olympics because, while Audi sponsors the U.S. ski team, it is not an Olympic games sponsor. Keogh says Audi will have a major effort behind "Iron Man II," which premieres in May. "We have a fantastic tie-in with them," he says.
He says messaging this year will be brand-focused and will reveal how Audi is getting third-party validation -- e.g., "Green Car of the Year" for A3 at the Los Angeles International Auto Show; and comparison tests that rated vehicles like A6, Q5 and S4 strongly against competitors in buff books like Car and Driver. "We are going to start to let the marketplace know that Audi is taking the lead," says Keogh.
Finally, Audi will support the A8 with a large media campaign. "In order to be the best luxury car brand in the world, you need that confirmed and validated by a large audience, so we will pursue a strategy that gets out there and delivers a brand message that this is the best car in the world," says Keogh. He says Audi will also run a program of events and sponsorships.