Audi Beefs Up Ad Budget

Will Use High-Profile TV to Reach Out to Consumers

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- While General Motors Corp. and other big automakers are trimming their 2008 ad budgets during the industry's dismal sales year, Audi of America is bulking up.
Commercials for the redone A4 will move to the national airwaves, with buys on Sunday Night Football and fall season openers like 'The Office.'
Commercials for the redone A4 will move to the national airwaves, with buys on Sunday Night Football and fall season openers like 'The Office.'

As others cut back amid a tough U.S. economy that has hit the auto industry hard, Audi Chief Marketing Officer Scott Keogh is taking a contrarian approach by sticking with his original budget for the year. At the same time, Audi is driving more into high-profile, mass-reach TV programming like the Academy Awards, a property GM decided this month to bail out of next year.

"We're going for a broader reach for our media to get Audi out of the best-kept-secret box," said Mr. Keogh.

Campaign is working
Audi just wrapped up a U.S. spot buy during the Olympics broadcasts on NBC and advertised during the Super Bowl -- the brand's first buy in the big game in nearly 20 years. Those commercials, for the redone A4, will move to the national airwaves, with buys on Sunday Night Football and fall season openers like "The Office."

Mr. Keogh, who called an agency review shortly after his arrival in spring 2006, said this year's campaign from independent Venables, Bell & Partners, San Francisco, is working. He cited findings from third-party researchers that revealed record awareness, opinion and consideration of Audi in 2008.

Since A4 is the brand's best-selling model, Audi will spend more in the second half of 2008, he said, declining to be specific. The company spent $24 million through May (excluding outdoor), according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Busting misperceptions
The A4 launch ads tout the car as "the biggest, fastest, most fuel-efficient in its class," said Mr. Keogh, adding that he wants that message out there "very succinctly" to bust misperceptions that Audi is merely a near-luxury make.

The work differs vastly from a launch TV spot from incumbent McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., for the redone '02 A4, an understated suspense-spy-game genre commercial that didn't emphasize the car's bigger size, improved engine or technological advances.

Mr. Keogh said Audi of America will again have a record sales year. The marketer's U.S. new-vehicle sales were essentially flat through July, off 1.9% to 51,827 units when compared to the year-ago period.
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