Audi looks to increase sales growth over 2000

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Audi of America expects in 2001 to best its record-breaking annual sales of more than 80,000 last year. The German car importer is targeting double-digit unit sales growth in the U.S. this year vs. 2000, predicted Len Hunt, VP of Audi of America. "2000 was the year Audi came all the way back," he said, referring to the brand's dismal 1991 sales of a paltry 12,000 units. "We've been gathering momentum in the mid-1990s with the revitalization of our entire product line." Helping to boost sales will be the Audi's all-new, 2001 allroad quattro wagon. Audi launches the allroad Jan. 15 on national broadcast and cable TV, part of a $20 million blitz concentrated mainly over the next four weeks on prime time and late night. McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., created a trio of :30s for the wagon, which is Audi's answer to the sport-utility craze.

Why such a big push, when Audi only plans to sell only 6,000 allroads this year? "It's a new vehicle for us and we feel like we're entering a new segment," said Mary Ellen Wilson, national ad manager.

The commercials, shot in Morocco, show a woman discovering a new world. David Baldwin, senior VP-exec creative director on the account, "we wanted to show the amazing things the vehicle can do on and off the road." Each spot ends with an on-screen invitation to viewers to continue the allroad's journey on the Web at

The TV spots depart from McKinney's use of road signs, which started in fall 1999 advertising. The signs still appear in three print ads for the allroad. One uses a "Yield" sign coupled with the words "To adventure."

The media buy marks the brand's return to national broadcast after an absence of several years, Ms. Wilson said. Spot TV expands from 26 markets to 46. Jim Hall, VP at consultancy AutoPacific, projected the allroad will sell out because of its limited supply and high consumer demand. The marketer, he said, has "turned around" as a brand. The revitalization started with the fall 1995 launch of the A4, which he described as "a very good car that was aggressively priced." Audi partly benefited from the growth in the luxury segment.

The second-generation of the A4 will get the biggest share of the brand's estimated $85 million ad budget in 2001, when it goes on sale this fall. Also arriving this fall is the S6 Avant performance sports wagon. Audi's 2001 S8 premium performance sedan went on sale two weeks ago.

Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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