Audi had the run of Red Bull Arena in Newark on July 29, when the Audi Football Summit pitted FC Bayern Munich against Club Deportivo Guadalajara. The German team, of which Audi AG is minority stakeholder, wasn't the only winner. The automaker won big-time, too. The game was sold out, the broadcast was upgraded day-of, and you could not have missed Audi branding if you tried.
And FC Bayern Munich wins in more ways than one: the event was pretty nicely timed with the opening of the club's offices in New York. Soccer wins because it is also timed with the official opening of Manchester City's New York City franchise and its new office. Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America talks futbol with Marketing Daily.
Q: Was the Summit the first time Audi has had “ownership” of a major soccer event in the U.S.?
A: This was the first Audi Football Summit in America. It gave us an exciting way to bring the enthusiasm around European soccer to the U.S. It fits nicely with the announcement that FC Bayern is opening an office here.
Q: Why is this the ideal time for Audi to be ramping up soccer activity in the U.S.?
A: We are starting to experience population shifts in America as Millennials are growing in strength. And soccer is an area they have participated in, growing up. Their perspective is on a global scale and soccer is obviously global. And Fox and NBC's embrace of soccer — meaning it's getting broadcast on major networks here in the U.S — elevates awareness, and is bringing more people to the sport, partly because they aren't having to get up at 5 a.m. and go to some pub somewhere. Now, from your living room, you can see the best teams live.
Q: It seems like a good nexus for the brand.
A: The demos on soccer are ideal for us. Audi has one of the lowest median ages in the luxury automotive set, and when you look at Millennials, they are predisposed to Audi over any luxury make. And for them soccer is one of the highest-favored lifestyle interest areas.
Q: What were the returns from the Football Summit?
A: There was a tremendous level of enthusiasm surrounding the Audi Summit. We sold out Red Bull with over 24,000 fans; the game, originally to be broadcast on ESPN2, got elevated to ESPN and then ultimately to prime-time ESPN within the last 24 hours because they saw the level of enthusiasm and ratings opportunity. And people waited outside of hotels to get a glimpse of players, and fans were turned away at the gate because it was sold out.
Q: What will Audi do next in the U.S. with soccer?
A: Right now there's a variety things on the horizon available and we are in process of assessing the best of them. You have so many popular European teams playing here, and there are so many great programs within Major League Soccer. So we are evaluating lots of things over course of next several months.
Q: What are you doing online to extend things like the LED Scoreboard you had in Brooklyn around the World Cup?
A: We are using lots of our own channels to promote things like the LED scoreboard and the Football Summit. With the former, there are a lot of fans behind a number of the teams we posted on, so we engaged those communities through their fan pages, through their social networks and ultimately identified ways to engage with them. Same thing with FC Bayern. They have 15 million followers and are focused on building their fan base. So we are working with them on content to tell their story.