Audi Opens 'Forum' Showroom in New York

Automaker's 'Brand Experience' Center Part of Strategy to Bolster U.S. Image, Sales

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Aiming to elevate its brand in the U.S., Audi of America held the official grand opening today in New York for its first U.S. Audi Forum, a "brand experience" center that can be rented out for events.
From outside the Audi Forum on Manhattan's Park Avenue
From outside the Audi Forum on Manhattan's Park Avenue Credit: Audi

Ninth forum, first in U.S.
Audi Forum in New York, the largest of nine such forums in the world at 6,400 square feet, will feature displays of the automaker's vehicles designs past, present and future. The center contains large, high-tech plasma screens, a multispeaker sound system and 13,000 watts of lighting.

Jim Sanfilippo, exec VP of auto consultant AMCI, said Audi's U.S. Forum should help build the image and sales volume of the German brand, which has much greater stature in Europe, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to Mercedes-Benz and BMW. "Audi is really making a run at it in the U.S." to accomplish those same goals, he said. "The Forum is sort of a fashion center for Audi."

"Visitors to the Forum will have the opportunity to experience the design principles and cutting-edge technologies that guide all Audi products," said Johan de Nysschen, exec VP at Audi of America.
Inside the forum
Inside the forum Credit: Audi

Agency review ongoing
The brand, meanwhile, has been busy making other shifts. Mr. de Nysschen has shaken up his management team, hiring Audi's first chief marketing officer in late spring and creating the post of chief operating officer last summer. Audi is also in the throes of a review for its creative account in the U.S.; incumbent agency McKinney, Raleigh, N.C., is defending the account.

Mr. de Nysschen has said he plans to increase U.S. vehicle sales to more than 90,000 in 2007. The brand said it sold 83,066 units in 2005 vs. 77,917 vehicles the prior year.
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