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A change in voice helped Audi of America reestablish itself in the U.S. auto market.

The introductory campaign for the A4 sedan "signaled a major change for us-a new attitude and a new direction," says Marketing Director Ken Moriarty, who's overseen the marketing plan.

Last year's campaign for the first A4 uses more of a "human voice" and is less ostentatious than previous campaigns, Mr. Moriarty says.

The effort, from McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., features tongue-in-check humor in headlines, such as "Tighter than your Dad" and "You're deep. It's your pockets that are shallow" to chase a younger target.

Mr. Moriarty credits McKinney with "helping us get a voice that's true to the car."

That voice was heard in a growing number of ad vehicles. Audi ads moved from auto buff magazines to national newspapers, consumer magazines and, most notably, spot TV. Audi will spend an estimated $40 million in 1997, up from $27 million in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

The A4 has attracted younger buyers between ages 30 and 40 to the brand, and more women than other Audi models. In addition, the A4 sedan bore a starting sticker price of $26,500. Last fall, Audi launched the entry-level A4 1.8T sports sedan at just under $23,000.

The A4 strategies have accounted for the bulk of Audi's 1997 first-quarter sales of 7,715-a 33% jump from a year ago and more than half the 12,500 units the marketer sold in all of 1994.

Audi projects 1997 U.S. sales to grow by at least 20%, in the low 30,000s, from nearly 27,400 last year.

"We definitely see traffic increasing in our markets where we are not as well developed," Mr. Moriarty says. "When people see [the A4], it's almost impossible for them to walk away unimpressed."

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