Audi launches Truth in Engineering ads

Audi is extending its new brand campaign with an ad campaign for its 2007 Q7 SUV.

The effort for the SUV, which went on sale last year, comprises online trailers, and TV ads, as well as print with the theme Truth in Engineering.

The ads promote features like seating for seven, and vehicle performance and agility by making fun of how those features are underrepresented in the category.

In April, Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Audi USA launched its first effort from new ad shop San Francisco-based Venables, Bell & Partners, which won the $70 million account in January, replacing Durham, NC-based McKinney and Silver.

Chief Marketing Officer Scott Keogh said at the time that Audi would be tilting its marketing budget toward interactive media. New ads for the 2008 TT coupe required viewers to use DVR or Internet access to see video compressed in a 0.2-second clip, suggesting the time it takes to shift gears.

The latest effort uses 60-second trailers that launched online on Friday, with 30-second TV versions breaking today, driving consumers online to www.AudiQ7-truth.com, where they can download videocasts, connect to local dealers, and interact in other ways.

The trailers at the “truth” site offer tongue-in-cheek vignettes pitching Q7 as a kind of mobile not-for-profit for problems like the scourge of the 18-point turn, and 7-person seating that doesn’t really seat seven. One ad shows children after band, baseball and football practice, left in the rain after school in the dark, as an SUV pulls away.

“These kids are victims of seven-seat SUVs, that don’t seat 7,” reads the super. VO: “The Audi Q7 … because someone should think of the children.” The other spot shows a guy holding up a long line of traffic in a parking lot because he’s engaged in an endless turnaround. The Audi Q7 is pitched as the agile solution to the “misery of the 18-point turn.”

The ads use Audi’s new tag, “Truth in Engineering.” Jeri Ward, Audi’s new general manager of marketing and strategy, says the ads will run on shows like “Gray’s Anatomy” and “Law and Order,” in key markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami.

As with the TT ads, she says, the purpose of the TV spots and the trailers is to drive consumers online to the Truth site. The longer trailers, Ward says, will be on YouTube and auto enthusiast sites.

“Truth in Engineering” is rolling out in phases, Ward says, with the Q7 ads following the TT spots, ads for the new A4 sedan, and ads touting Audi’s safety features. She says brand advertisements will follow in the next few months, likely using the R8 sports car as a halo.

Wes Brown, automotive consultant with IceOlogy, an LA market consultancy, says that while Audi “is selling every Q7 it can get its hands on,” they still face the simple problem of the physical and media presence of competitors Lexus, BMW and Mercedes.

“I think if you move outside of certain market places, like Northeast and West, or beyond the winter states, where Quattro (all wheel drive) is known’, it’s a significant awareness issue. In other countries–in Germany, for instance–Audi is a top-ranked luxury brand.

But, says Brown, in the U.S., “they don’t have the media dollars. The big boys have a much greater presence than Audi does in media and via their physical presence on the road.”

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