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
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
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
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
VIRGIN MONEY MANAGERS
Brief: Make busy and
cynical consumers aware of how Money Managers can help them
Copywriter: Mike Ballantyne
Art director: Guy Roberts.