In the world of luxury cars, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus have dominated the marketplace for the past few decades.  All three companies have been lauded for producing cars with top notch engineering, advanced safety mechanisms, and posh designs.  This particular advertisement features another luxury car brand, however, known as Audi, which is considered by many auto critics to still be finding its place in the luxury marketplace.  When Audi AG first came into inception, the company prided itself with manufacturing cars equipped with their legendary quattro all-wheel drive system.  As the years passed, however, the automaker didn’t have much luck reaching the sale figures they desired.  The company knew they needed to up their game.  Recently, Audi’s marketing efforts have focused on differentiating their vehicles from the typical or safe choices in the market.

The ad above is a prime example of how Audi has been differentiating itself from the competition.  This particular commercial opens with a high school aged student who is being advised on how to live his life.  The advisor first tells the student that he should attend one of three universities displayed, which are perhaps Harvard, Princeton, and Yale; three of the most prestigious Ivy League schools.  He then goes on to state that the student will attain a job in one of three professions: law, business, or medicine.  The third and most significant statement made describes how the student will purchase a car from none other than Mercedes-Benz, BMW, or Lexus.  However, the meeting is then interrupted by the sound of one of Audi’s most beautiful and praised cars, the A5 coupe.  This sound immediately draws the kid’s attention to the window where the sleek coupe can be seen pulling up.  The statement “Consider the cycle broken” then appears on screen, which anchors this notion that Audi is unique.

In Social Communication in Advertising the authors state how “without doing much research, you could conclude that in the last half of the twentieth century one of the most popular ways to market a brand was to position it as the alternative to the current, seemingly “uptight” category leader” (500).  This ad effectively demonstrates this pattern found in the world of advertising.  By creating dialogue focused around conservative ideals, and mixing this with the logos of BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus, this ad creates the notion that these companies are indeed the “uptight” category leaders.  The whole atmosphere of the room connotes a mundane and conservative lifestyle.  The A5, in contrast, appears as fresh car, which has high aesthetic appeal.  By literally illuminating the road with its LED lights, the A5 displays Audi’s new signature design.  Audi has been trying to pave the way for new and innovate design technologies, and as displayed here, the automaker inspires consumers to think outside of the box, and purchase from an alternative company with less pedigree.  It creates the notion that if you do not give their cars a chance, you are perhaps a typical, run-of-the mill person, such as the advisor.

Perhaps the most clever aspect of the ad is that Audi simply associates itself with such respected automotive companies.  By displaying the logos of Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus, Audi puts itself in the same league, which will ultimately make buyers feel good about the company.  Placing these four companies in the same commercial creates an imagined sense of community,  too.  The ad conveys the idea that people who drive these cars are well educated, successful, and powerful.  However, Audi targets luxury buyers who may feel as though they are unique, and acquired success through newer and more innovative careers though.  It attracts the individual who may be more of a Silicon Valley type, than a Wall St. type, or perhaps the businessman who wants to break free from the expected.  As stated by Jim Fowles, “Advertising draws on popular culture’s repository or symbolic material (images or text or music) in an attempt to fabricate new symbols with enlivened meanings” (482).  Audi successfully enlivens their brand symbol by creating this notion that they are the up-and-coming company, which goes against the expected.  They play off of other luxury symbols, in an attempt to make them appear stuffy and uptight.  In this commercial Audi dares you to be different.

Post by Kevin