In 2006, Scott Keogh joined Audi of America as their Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). At that time Audi, unlike Mercedes, BMW and Lexus, was not perceived as a luxury brand in the United States. Scott said, “Luxury is a conversation not an ideal. It is about what we most admire and desire and that evolves as consumer preferences evolve. To change the conversation, you have to get into it, and we were not part of the US luxury conversation. It is important to admit reality- if you have a competitor, you have to look at it and determine what you are going to do about it.” Audi was well respected in Germany but not in the US and Scott set out to change that perception by reinventing themselves based on four principles and a social media marketing campaign. (Lamb, 2012)
Audi’s Four Principles
- “It is not what you’re driving it is what you are driving for”
- “Shift from seeking confirmation to achieving admiration” change from he is one of us, to I want to be like him
- “It’s ok to let them see you sweat” – stare competition in the face
- Luxury is more about experience than products- obtain greater satisfaction by buying an experience not a material good. (Lamb, 2012)
Audi Uses Viral Marketing
Since 2008 Audi has increased brand awareness in a down economy. They have done so by utilizing “unorthodox” viral marketing campaigns; “Stolen Audi” miniseries TV and YouTube video spots and “Meet the Beckers” video’s aimed at their competition. The “unorthodox” strategy is working for Audi because Audi is perceived as unorthodox in the marketplace. (Schwartz, 2011)
Humor and Risk – from Audi’s “Green Police” 2010 Campaign
In 2010 Audi created a “Green Police” advertisement for the Super Bowl and a series of public service announcements. The goal was to create buzz via humor around the Audi A3 TDI, and bring awareness to sustainability, not poke fun at environmentalists. The ads generated a bit of controversy due to the way Audi portrayed the eco-movement. The American Chemistry Council’s plastic division countered some of Audi’s portrayal of plastics. (Koch, 2010) David Roberts, staff writer of the Grist Magazine, gave more consideration to the portrayal of the green police in the Audi ad and believes people are over thinking the ad and missing the point; “the Audi A3 TDI is green and desirable—indeed more desirable because it is green. Audi is targeting an audience which is not hard core environmentalists; they are targeting those who want to do the right thing. The intended A3 TDI message is “prosperity, pleasure and sustainability can be achieved together.” (Roberts, 2010)
2011 #ProgressIs campaign unknown ROI but deemed a success and a failure
In 2011 Audi was the first company to include a twitter hashtag in a Super Bowl® commercial. The #ProgressIs hashtag was part of a contest to prompt viewers to tweet about the Audi A8, the Audi brand and its brand positioning, “Luxury has progressed” (Wasserman, 2011).
Audi 2011 Super Bowl Ad “Release the Hounds”
See #ProgressIs hashtag at end of the following video.
This promotion was coordinated with a Trend ad on Twitter. While Audi maintains a social media staff to monitor its presence on social media sites and post new content they hired Klout to find influential people to help promote the Audi brand. Klout found 1,100 people for Audi to create on-line viral chatter. These Audiphiles tweeted about the hashtag, #ProgressIs more than 12,000 times. At the time of the promotion analytics were not very good and therefore Audi is unsure of the ROI for this campaign. Doug Clark, Audi of America’s GM of social media and customer engagement, says a study by Visibli, a social marketing analytics company, determined that Audi has the most “engaged” fans of any entity on facebook; their 3 million fans are devoted to pushing the brand forward (Qualman, 2011). Clark is unsure if Audi’s engaged fans are any more likely to buy and Audi as a result of this campaign likes on Facebook or twitter tweets. He does believe that the target audience, tech-minded consumers are active here and therefore they need to spend advertising dollars on these platforms (Manjoo, 2011).
Audi’s historic social media promotions on twitter and facebook enabled “fans to join the movement to redefine luxury” and got people talking about the brand on the platforms. For the contests Audi established a point system to determine a winner based on how well the contestants engaged their followers, fueled conversation and promoted the contest and hence the brand. The top ten finalist generated tweets, created YouTube videos which had many views; they generated blog interest and traditional media interest. At the end of the contest there was controversy; the fans following the winners were not convinced the true winner was selected. The followers thought the rules straightforward enough that Audi should divulge the numbers. However, Audi would not divulge the specific counts, tweeting” …@audi is not obliged to release scores & doesn’t plan to”. The second place finisher, John Garcia posted that Audi had issued a warning about inflating page views, and that if evidence was found that contestants did inflate page views they could be disqualified at the Sponsor’s discretion. While no one has shown this to occur, the unofficial view of the results shows Twitpic views tipped the scales to the winner; Twitpic views may have been manipulated. Ryan Ozawa’s view of the Audi brand has been diminished as a result of this contest and Audi’s lack of response after gaining much publicity and benefit from the messages sent by contestants to build the Audi community and brand awareness (Ozawa, 2011).
As a result of record consumer response Audi has brought back their famed #WantAnR8 twitter campaign for 2012. The contest which gives eight winners the chance to drive the R8 for a day as part of the Audi Experience on the track in Sonoma, CA, or around thier own neighborhood. The contest runs from March 20, 2012 through October 29, 2012. Audi is running a spot “Once Upon a Time”, on the Audi YouTube channel and network TV. (Audi of America News)
Scott Keogh is pushing the brand on many digital and social media fronts. He has added iPads in showrooms, put the inventory of each Audi dealer on the Audi mobile platform, worked with developers of racing simulator apps where the winner could win and Audi RS3. Keogh has his sights on being the #1 luxury car in the US. He is on his way; in 2010 Audi had a 23% increase in sales over 2009 and the market share has doubled since 2005. “Audi is no longer following, It’s the brand that’s taking the lead.” Says Keogh (Klara, 2011).
According to Scott Keogh, “Interaction with consumers has become, even for luxury brands, a conversation. We have to market products as a necessary part of someone’s life.” Audi is the most-buzzed auto brand right now. (Lamb, 2012)
The contest for the Audi RS3 may be over…however you can still download and play.
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