Bold Marketing a Big Key to Audi’s Domestic Success


There was a time when Audi was considered an also ran in the race to dominate the premium U.S. car market. Well, times have changed. The numbers are out and Audi’s June domestic sales topped out at an impressive 10,051 luxury vehicles sold. That’s a 16.9% increase in sales over June 2010, making the second quarter of 2011 the best quarter in Audi history. According to Johan de Nysschen, President of Audi of America, “All indications continue to point toward 2011 winding up as one of the best years Audi has ever enjoyed in the U.S. market.” Although Nysschen chalks up Audi’s extraordinary performance to consumer recognition of its … “exceptionally engineered models”, a great deal of credit goes to Audi’s marketing team. Below is a short list of some of the ways Audi’s savvy use of Social Media, coupled with “in your face” advertising, has helped the “car company that could” become a major contender in the competitive high-end car market.

Call out your competition

The year was 2007. In the wake of 9 years of consistent domestic growth, capped off by a stellar 2006, Audi sent a message to its competitors in the form of a brief statement issued by Rupert Stadler, the Chairman of the Board of
management of Audi AG. “This puts us well on the way to becoming the most successful premium car manufacturer in the world by 2015,” said Stadler. It was a bold proclamation. A wake-up call to what Audi considered its stagnant and complacent competition. Effectively, Audi had served notice to such high-end heavyweights as BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus, notice that a new sheriff was coming to town, carrying a badge forged from four interconnected rings. Realizing that you can’t shift into reverse from a statement that bold, Audi purposefully left itself with but one option – hit the gas and never look back.

Create Clever Controversial Commercials

Last year Audi’s 60 second “Green Police” Super Bowl spot caused no small stir among both avid and armchair
environmentalists, many of whom took to the internet to air their grievances. The main gripe was that Audi was making fun of the green movement, at the same time promoting its A3 TDI diesel, a car which ironically was named Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal. The upside for Audi? The commercial went viral, commanding 2,622,965 YouTube views as of this date. Okay, make that 2,622,966 views. Audi’s ad people could have crossed the line and risked major backlash. But they knew exactly where that line was drawn and they nudged it with the front bumper of the A3 and struck viral gold.

Wage War With Your Fiercest Competitor

Last year a “brick and mortar” billboard placed in a highly trafficked area of Los Angeles started a back and forth battle between Audi and its chief competitor BMW. The billboard, boasting the crisp image of a new Audi A4 and the taunt “Your Move BMW” openly dared the auto giant to post a proportional response to the warning shot Audi had fired over the bow of its flagship M5. BMW took the bait, and bested the A4 billboard with a billboard of its own, baring the sleek photo of an M5 elegantly captioned with one word “Checkmate”. The war was on, but in typical unpredictable fashion, Audi changed the rules of engagement, taking the battle from the billboard to the internet. On its Facebook page Audi invited loyal fans to submit a barrage of Photo-shopped billboard countermeasures to BMW’s clever assault. As Audi had predicted, the campaign, which came to be called “Billboard Wars” went viral through the efficient pass along power of Social Media. In answer to “Checkmate”, Audi posted a new ad, advising BMW that it was “time to check your luxury badge. It may have expired.” (In an unrelated campaign Audi suggested that maybe Mercedes’ own iconic badge had grown a little stale) BMW responded by dismantling its billboard, taking the war to another battle ground in China and posting an ad promoting the new 5-series literally on the outside wall of an Audi Dealership. Although these so- called “war of the brands ads – have been around for a long time, and are generally considered to be good for both parties, in taking the billboard campaign from the streets of LA to the internet, Audi clearly won that battle. Still, as the war for automotive dominance in the premium market rages on, one thing is clear. The real winners are the consumers, those who are fortunate enough to find themselves in the market for a high-end automobile at a time where competition is raising the bars in the areas of quality, dependability and pure driver enjoyment like never before – areas in which Audi seems to be prepared to paddle-shift the paradigms.

About the Author: Jack Allen is a freelance writer for Napleton Chrysler Jeep Dodge. As a Chicagoland Chrysler Jeep and Dodge dealer, Napleton is able to offer a great selection of vehicles at very competitive prices.


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