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Episode Seven: Man And Machine
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Audi, which sat out last year's Super Bowl for the first time in seven years, is back in the game with an ad portraying a retired astronaut who rediscovers his zest for life thanks to a new Audi vehicle.
The 60-second ad, called "Commander," was released today and will air in the first quarter of Sunday's game. The agency is San Francisco-based Venables Bell & Partners.
The soundtrack for the ad is David Bowie's "Starman," which plays as the astronaut drives an all-new Audi R8 V10 plus, conjuring memories of his glory days in space. The vehicle, which Audi calls the "fastest and most powerful Audi of all time," goes on sale this spring. "Audi reminds us that amazing things happen when we shoot for the moon," the brand said in a statement.
Super Bowl ads have played a key role in Audi's pursuit of a "progressive luxury" positioning in recent years. In Audi's 2008 Super Bowl debut the brand introduced the first-generation R8 supercar with a commercial parody of "The Godfather." Ad Age recently ranked that spot as the 37th-best Super Bowl ad of all time.
This year's ad comes as Audi parent company Volkswagen deals with an emissions-rigging scandal that broke late last year. Some Audi vehicles were implicated in the case, which involves charges that VW installed "defeat devices" that can evade emissions testing.
Recent Audi TV ads, including the Super Bowl ad, no longer carry the tagline "Truth in Engineering." Asked about that, an Audi spokesman stated in an email: "Given some of the current sentiment surrounding the TDI emissions issues, we have suspended it in certain marketing materials. But, Audi remains proud of its strong record of innovation, its robust engineering heritage, and the employees that strive every day to build, sell and service best in class vehicles for our customers.''
On Tuesday, Volkswagen Group of America submitted to U.S. and California regulators a draft plan to recall and repair thousands of 3.0-liter diesel vehicles containing illegal emissions software.
The proposal comes after the California Air Resources Board and the EPA said in early November that 3.0-liter diesel engines used in Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen models since 2009 contained three emissions control systems that weren't disclosed as required by law. One of the systems was the "defeat device" that masked nitrogen oxide emissions in lab tests that were up to nine times permissible levels in the real world, according to the agencies.
Audi said in a statement Tuesday that it is fully cooperating with the authorities to make the 3.0-liter diesel compliant, and its draft recall plan was submitted on time.
"Now the authorities will review the plan and determine whether it meets their requirements," Audi said. "We hope to receive a decision in the near future."
The 3.0-liter diesel V-6 engine was used in some versions of the Audi A6, A7 and A8 sedans and the Q5 and Q7 crossovers, along with Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg, as far back as the 2009 model year. About 85,000 vehicles nationwide are affected, according to regulators.
Automotive News contributed to this story.