After throwing a Hail Mary in the Super Bowl, Audi is going for the two points, with a pair of spots to air during the Winter Olympics' Friday evening opening ceremonies. The new ads, via AOR Venables Bell & Partners, are directly competitive with Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Audi, the official vehicle of the U.S. Ski Team, will also host streaming coverage of the ski team, and recovery of injured skiers T.J. Lanning, who was injured at the Audi FIS World Cup opener in November, and Resi Stiegler, also injured in November. The content will be on Audi's Facebook page and on an Audi-sponsored portion of the U.S. ski-team site.
Scott Keogh, VP of marketing at the Herndon, Va.-based company, says the Olympics are the right venue. "First and foremost, after the Super Bowl it will be the largest TV event of the year. If you look at the Olympics in Beijing and then hear that viewership numbers are going up, the Winter Olympics could be knocking on the door of 170 or 180 million viewers, so we plan aggressive rotation -- lots and lots of ads." The ads will live on in local market buys after the Games.
Keogh tells Marketing Daily the creative direction is a perfect fit for the Olympics.
"The first thing is, the Olympics is the spirit of competition; it's about who wins and who doesn't. The second thing is that we don't want to wait in line for five or six years for consumers to discover that we have great products when the truth is out there right now, so we wanted to directly address that. Not indirectly," he says.
He says the economy also encourages the aggressive approach. "We see in the marketplace -- with its economic turmoil -- consumers are hitting the reset button, looking for different solutions." He says that, per Polk research, Audi loses one customer to Lexus for every three that Lexus loses to Audi, and one to two in Audi's favor for both Mercedes and BMW.
One of the two spots, which will be aired in 30- and 60-second versions, shows people nearly comatose from having subscribed to convention when it comes to cars and SUVs. First there's a kid sitting alone in his bedroom gazing at a wall poster of a Ferrari.
"I've been told to desire a red, Italian sports car," he says, blandly. Cut to a woman in a parking lot, next to a Lexus RX, waiting for her soccer-playing kid. "I've been told beige and predictable fit my lifestyle," she mutters, as if hypnotized.
"We've been told how our status symbols are the goal," say a pair of zombie-like middle executives strolling out to their identical Mercedes-Benzes, unlocking their doors at the same time. "I've been told this is the way to retire," says an older man in beige double-knits who stands next to a golf cart in which sits his equally sedated wife in matching cardigan. In the background, a Lexus awaits.
Then comes the super, "The Spell Has Been Broken," as an Audi R8 roadster grabs the kid's attention, an S4 sports sedan awakens the business guys, a Q5 crossover gets a soccer mom out of the fog, and an A5 Cabriolet gets the golfers off their rockers.
A second spot goes after BMW, with creative that says every friendly competition has a loser. Then, as an Audi pulls past a BMW, a voiceover says, "BMW knows exactly how this feels, as super reads, "Audi has defeated BMW in three straight Car and Driver comparisons."