Audi – The Alpha-manufacturer

Audi, a car brand that once teetered on the edge of collapse when under the Auto Union banner, is now one of the world’s biggest success stories. Image, it seems, has played a pivotal part in the brand’s success. We take a look at some of the marketing processes used to create this image, to understand what it is that has made Audi the brand it is today.

Knocking your rivals to promote yourself is not something a brand that lacks confidence will do. Audi then, must have confidence in lorry loads because in this advert some of its main rivals – Alfa Romeo, Volvo, BMW and Mercedes are all insulted. The brands are mentioned as each having a quality of their own, but of course this is use of clever trickery to show that instead of offering one quality, Audi can offer all of these qualities together.

Audi clearly isn’t here to offer an alternative choice, it’s here to offer the choice. That’s what you call confidence.

This ruthless cockiness is not just limited to television adverts however. At the beginning of the decade American marketing departments for BMW and Audi went to war, with their main choice of weaponry being highly important billboard sites.

Over the course of several months, the German brands went head to head in bringing another blow to each other, with the final outcome being that both marque’s benefited highly from increased exposure in all forms of media outlets.

A story of clever marketing or childish bickering, whatever the reasons, it worked. To top off this tit for tat battle, Audi was so confident in its brand image and ever-loving fan base, that it even turned to Audi fans to help design the final blow to the Californian billboard war.

Watch the story of this marketing bloodbath here:

It doesn’t end there though. Audi’s confidence in brand image is so high, it can produce adverts that focus entirely on how ‘cool’ or desirable its cars are. They’re so desirable, they’re worth risking life for…apparently. The range topping R8 is unsurprisingly often involved in this type of advertising, as shown here in this jokey advert:

To further emphasise Audi’s confidence in the R8, it’s recent R8 V10 advert was a fantastically simple yet highly effective video. Featuring little more than a revving V10 engine and close up shots, the R8 is able to sell itself without any added music or action shots.

It’s no surprise this advert has often been coined as the best car ad ever made. Surely that serves as a slight punch in the face to car makers who have spent millions on far less effective ads..

In another recent ad campaign that featured a very different philosophy, the ‘Ugly Duckling’ advert for the A5 featured one of Audi’s most innovative designs. The car, a concept car from the 1920s never made production, but with its futuristic lines and aerodynamic body, it was an early example of Audi’s innovation – something this advert clearly emphasises to the viewer:

So it is clear to see that Audi, one of the world’s most successful and respected carmakers, is just a little bit cocky.

Employing a variety of marketing tricks to promote itself, Audi has created a cool, confident image that buyers clearly love. Instead of marketing its cars as being great value, much like Kia or Hyundai frequently do, Audi instead portrays its cars as objects of desire.

Audi is therefore certainly amongst the jocks of the car world. Perhaps we could even go so far as saying that Audi isn’t just a car maker, it’s an Alpha-car maker.


About sam sheehan Freelance automotive writer and MA Automotive Journalism student

One comment

  1. Pingback: Audi’s Image | Auto Research 2014

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