Call it a hunch but, at a subconscious level, I think Audi’s brand positioning owes a lot to ad agency structure. When you think about it, Audi is to BMW what planner is to suit.

Call it a hunch but, at a subconscious level, I think Audi’s brand

positioning owes a lot to ad agency structure. When you think about it,

Audi is to BMW what planner is to suit.

BMWs, like the more outwardly directed account folk, thrive in rigid

hierarchies (’I’m a 5-series group account director, you know’). By

contrast, among Audis, as among inward-focused planners, there’s less

differentiation within the range. A fellow who’s an Audi driver or a

planner isn’t so obsessed with the level that he’s at.

Now, though, with the Audi A8 comes a car aimed not so much at the

agency planner but at the chairman - Jag country. So how can the company

make this clear without becoming hierarchical and un-Audi-like?

Well, on a strategic level, they do it well.

In the phrase, ’Not all successful men are driven’, and in the

’ditch-the-chauffeur’ campaign that follows, the car is shown as being a

top-flight vehicle for the front-seat driver. There is an ingenious

lateral extension of the campaign in the shape of a plain letter from a

disgruntled ex-chauffeur.

This is clever, as is the offer of a 48-hour unsupervised test drive

plus suggestions of country hotels to drive to unchauffeured. I applaud

the single-mindedness of the campaign across media, the perfectly cooked

brochure copy and the sumptuous photography. But there is one


The ’chauffeur-takes-a-back-seat’ route is a scenic one, but I feel it’s

been driven down before.

After Audi, the Canon mailing doesn’t drive anywhere. The emotional

proposition is there: ’Stack the odds in your favour.’ But it is too

vague a claim, unredeemed by the inclusion of a pair of loaded dice.

What the creative team needed here wasn’t just empathetic inspiration

from planners but a little help from the agency’s BMW drivers in

collecting chilly, hard facts to explain how Canon’s service materially

helps me.

The following two briefs needed the opposite treatment. Both were loaded

with hard reasons as to why you should buy the product. What was needed

was help from the Audi brigade to bring the proposition alive.

The first brief offers a subscription service, U-Direct, on Sky letting

you watch pay-per-view movies in real time ’so you can recreate that

Amsterdam hotel room feel in the comfort of your own home’. They didn’t

say that, of course: instead the proposition is stated with literal


It’ll work, I’m sure. But there must be a more compelling way to convey

it than to state it so baldly.

Compaq is tougher. It’s a standard cash-back offer, but the agency’s

Audi drivers have gone a little way to communicate the emotional hit of

a cash windfall. It is, of course, a generic approach that could be

applied to any brand, but then it’s tough to do anything else here.

Last, an envelope from Virgin Money Managers that contains two letters.

One opens, ’Most people don’t like reading long letters’, and just runs

for one paragraph. The other opens, ’Some people actually do like

reading long letters’, and runs for a page, giving BMW drivers the

necessary hard facts about what Virgin offers.

Now you could say this approach could be used for any product, and you’d

be right. Yet the candour and clarity of this approach and the tone of

the copy is uniquely Virgin.

Funny how many interesting modern brands like Virgin and Go somehow

appeal to the heart and head alike. They have a kind of ’rational

attitude’ that talks to BMW and Audi drivers alike. Perhaps that’s why

successful agencies need both.



Brief: Show that the A8 is a car to be driven, not just admired, and

offer a 48-hour test drive

Agency: BBH Unlimited

Copywriter: Dougie Wood

Art director: Dave Cloke


Brief: Target the information swamped audience and cut through the

jargon associated with office solutions

Agency: KLP Euro RSCG

Copywriter: Jamie Putnam

Art director: Stuart Verney


Brief: Launch and create awareness for the brand, ultimately maximising

registrations and usage

Agency: Interfocus

Copywriter: Richard Krupp

Art director: Paul Hogben

Director: Andy Lambert


Brief: Solve your cashflow problems by buying a year 2000-compliant


Agency: Jones Mason Barton Antenen

Copywriters: Simon Wood, Simon Antenen

Art director: Rod Marsh


Brief: Make busy and

cynical consumers aware of how Money Managers can help them

Agency: IMP

Copywriter: Mike Ballantyne

Art director: Guy Roberts.