Audi spots finish first with live race footage

By Published on .

Most Popular
Audi of North America is beginning the last lap of an ad campaign that incorporates live footage from the LeMans Series.

The car marketer and its ad agency, McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., have been utilizing footage of Audi's race car in spots that air within five days of the race. The estimated $5 million effort, which includes two upcoming spots to run through November, began in August on national cable. That first spot featured scenes from the LeMans race in Mosport near Bowmanville, Ontario.

Each of two spots that have already run opens with an "American LeMans" super and the race date over track-side footage. Each ends with supers touting Audi's first-place finish.

"We're pretty lucky the three [races] we filmed [so far] we won," said Rod Bymaster, motorsports manager at Audi.

Other car marketers with motorsports' teams produce print ads touting a win in Monday newspapers the day after a race. "But no one is doing TV-win ads," Mr. Bymaster said.


The German car importer returned to motorsports in the LeMans Series last year after an 11-year hiatus. Audi actually started advertising racing with a print ad in USA Today after winning at Sebring, Fla., in March. But Mr. Bymaster said print ads "don't quite catch the excitement and energy that goes on at the race track."

The racing commercials fit with Audi's core characteristics of advanced technology, design, performance and emotion, said Cameron McNaughton senior VP-director of client services at McKinney & Silver.

The agency tapped racing specialist Jeff Zwart to direct the spots. Mr. Zwart and Ralph Watson, the agency's art director overseeing the live shoots, had to wear fireproof suits in the race pits where the commercials were filmed.

Mr. Watson said that for the first spots, the film editing started the day after the races and took about five hours. The crew flew to Detroit for client approval on two days after the race; transferred the film three days after the race; mixed the spot on the fourth day, and sent the finished spot via satellite to air the fifth day after the race. "It's a very fast turn around."

If Audi wins the last U.S. LeMans race Sept. 30 in Atlanta, the agency may also create a victory spot using existing race footage. McKinney & Silver also is using the live footage for a more generic Audi racing spot. Mr. Watson said print ads from the live footage are also under consideration.


Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., was the first to develop next-day win ads for print after Chevrolet-sponsored driver Emerson Fittipaldi won the 1993 Indianapolis 500. "That first time, everyone thought the race was rigged because we turned around the pictures so fast" via satellite, said Bill Ludwig, vice chairman and chief creative officer.

The agency still does next-day print ads for Chevy wins at bigger races such as the Daytona 500, said David Johns, senior VP-creative director on the motorsports account. He said a six day turn-around of live track footage for a TV spot "is not that big a deal."

In the past, Campbell-Ewald pre-shot footage of each Chevy-sponsored driver and used title cards in next-day TV spots congratulating whichever driver won a race.

In this article: