Ad Review: Audi Gets It Right With Ricky Gervais

Band of Uncompromising Iconoclasts Make Case for Entry-Level Luxury

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Now that the launch of its A3 sedan -- and the accompanying "Stay Uncompromised" marketing campaign -- is here, Audi's ridiculous Super Bowl spot makes a little more sense. "Doberhuaha," if you might remember, was meant to depict the perils of compromise. I gave it 1.5 stars at the time.

The gag -- a plague of Doberman-headed Chihuahuas terrorizing the populace -- made little sense, and the CGI was crude. More important, who was accusing Audi of compromise? Or who was Audi accusing of compromise? Why was compromise even a talking point?

Now we know. The A3 is meant to be an entry-level luxury offering, an Audi for under $30K. Is such a concept an oxymoron? Can you do luxury on the cheap?

If you go into an Audi showroom with your tattered jeans and your Honda Accord budget, are you getting something built with the spare parts from the VW plant down the street?

No. Rest assured you are getting an actual Audi, built with the same stuff that goes into the $64,000 A7 and the $115,000 R8. Because the carmaker hasn't compromised.

And to make the point in its commercials, the carmaker and agency Venables, Bell & Partners have tapped a handful of iconoclasts including U.S. gold medal-winning boxer Claressa Shields; celebrity chef David Chang; comedian Kristen Schaal; graffiti artists Cyrcle; photojournalist Lynsey Addario; and gospel group Voices of Destiny. This band of folks, who are strangers to the word compromise, are featured in the campaign's debut spot, "Dues," reciting lyrics to Queen's "We Are the Champions." They're bookended by comedian, loudmouth and provocateur Ricky Gervais.

Gervais, of course, is not for everyone. And that's the point. Audi isn't interested in some soft-voiced appeal to the masses. It's talking to you, the with-it, cool folks who recognize celebrity chefs and photojournalists, you who probably thought you'd never get a car, but now that you need one realize that Mom's horribly boring Toyota Camry is $25K, so why not get a luxury ride, even if it's an entry-level model?

The ad is good. As far as that goes these days. And a second ad, "Names," puts Gervais (and his reputation) to better use in a spot that is funny and highlights a product feature. But the campaign itself goes further. Online, interested viewers will find "Uncompromised Portraits" of those featured in the "Dues" spot.

As a whole, the campaign butters up the target and nicely encapsulates what the automaker is going for: Refusing to compromise, especially at the beginning, can be hard, can put you in tight spots, may get you temporarily cast out of Hollywood or abducted in Libya. But ultimately, it pays off. And Audi's refusal to compromise on even its cheapest model will pay off for you, too. (As long as you have 30 grand.)

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