Audi uses image car to draw prospects into its showrooms

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Audi of America sees its 2001-model TT convertible as a brand magnet.

The TT "may be low volume, but it's such a wonderful car for the brand," said Doug Clark, communications manager overseeing national advertising at Audi. The ragtop can draw prospects to showrooms who would have not otherwise considered Audi, he added.

Because of that, the all-new roadster will get dedicated advertising even though Audi expects to sell only some 5,000 of the cars this year.

McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., created a new 30-second TV spot that breaks May 8 on national cable and spot TV, with creative following the road-sign theme that bowed last October. The media buy is heaviest in May, including print ads in auto enthusiast magazines as well as general interest titles.


The TT ragtop is a sister model to the TT hard-top coupe that debuted in May 1998. Audi also expects to sell about 5,000 of the coupes this year, the first time Audi is offering both TT models.

Mr. Clark declined to discuss ad spending for the TT roadster. But it's expected Audi will almost match the nearly $20 million it spent on the TT coupe in measured media last year. Only the A6 received a larger ad outlay than the TT in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The marketer's total 1999 ad spending was $73 million.

Jim Hall, VP of industry analysis at consultancy AutoPacific, described the TT as "an image car" for Audi.

"There's nothing worse than having an image car and not advertising it," he said. Most auto marketers don't advertise image cars because of their low sales volumes.

Other image cars include General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Corvette and Nissan North America's Diamante. American Honda Motor Co. has advertised its low-volume image car, the S2000, since its launch last fall. Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., handles.

The target for the TT roadster is about 55% male, with a median age of 42 and annual household income of $90,000. The base price for the convertible is $33,725.

In 2000, Audi expects to break its peak 1986 U.S. sales record of 74,061 units, Mr. Clark said. This year, the marketer plans to sell 75,000 units in the U.S. Another new model arriving in the fourth quarter-the 2001 all-road Quattro sport wagon-will contribute to the increased sales volume.

In the first quarter of 2000, Audi said its sales rose by 63.9% to 18,783 units vs. 11,459 for the same quarter a year ago.

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