Media: Strategy Analysis - Audi explores sinister beauty theme

Brand: Audi RS4 Client: Audi Brief: Generate interest in the Audi RS4 launch and future Audi activity within a new community of men Target audience: Young, upmarket men Budget: Six-figure campaign AGENCIES Media planning: MediaCom Creative agencies: Emap2, Bartle Bogle Hegarty


To launch the Audi RS4, Bartle Bogle Hegarty devised the creative theme "sinister beauty" for the ad campaign. It played on the ambiguous proposition of a beautifully designed piece of machinery with the beast-like engine of a racing car lying underneath. Emap2's objective was to communicate the design aesthetic and performance of the new Audi RS4 to an intelligent, upmarket male audience, through "communities of passion". The new audience Audi was looking to reach was men with a passion for music, film or design.


Emap's magazine titles have a strong heritage in music, film and design, which allowed bespoke promotions integrating Audi's message to fit seamlessly into the editorial content.

An advertorial feature was created for each of the three magazine titles identified to run the campaign (Q, Empire and Arena) to reach the target audience through their passion. The magazine editorial teams translated their idea of the campaign's "sinister beauty" theme in a way that would most appeal to their readers. Each advertorial carried a call to action for readers to visit the "sinister beauty" website, created for the campaign with bespoke themed interactive content.

- Press: The Q editorial team compiled the top-20 "sinister beautiful" songs and the top-ten "sinister beautiful" albums of all time. Readers were steered to the website where they could listen to and download the "sinister beauty" playlist and exchange views of Q's choice of songs and albums.

Empire's advertorial took the form of a provocative in-depth feature on the most "sinister beautiful" movie scenes, films and directors of all time. The editorial copy explored the power of image, the allure of horror and cinema's flirtation with darkness to deliver Audi's message.

As part of the feature, BBH's creative team talked about the films that influenced their creative process when coming up with the campaign. The advertorial steered readers to the website where they could preview and rate the films. Readers could also view and download the full-length Audi RS4 cinema ad.

Arena readers have an intrinsic interest in Audi as one of the original black-collar worker brands. Three of Arena's favourite photographers were commissioned to interpret "sinister beauty" by producing a single image involving as little or as much of the RS4 as they liked. The end results of the photoshoots were presented as a gallery in the magazine with an introduction from the editor, who explained how Audi's marketing had evolved over the years. Again, readers were steered to the website to view an extended gallery of "sinister beauty" photography.

- Online: Magazine activity was supported by specially created websites by Emap2. Readers of each magazine, as well as a targeted online database, were encouraged to visit the site to access additional information on each of the three magazines' content as well as details on the new RS4 model. Interactivity was encouraged via voting and downloading tracks.


A competition run on the online site to win an iPod received more than 6,000 entrants. The online site created a community for Audi's new audience, providing a database of potential consumers keen to hear more about product developments.

THE VERDICT - Marie Oldham strategy director, Media Planning Group

For me, the core to executing this campaign lies in the targeting. Understanding the passions that motivate the young, upmarket male target has become de rigeur for many campaigns, but is not often executed this well.

As the basic premise of this activity, "communities of passion" not only helps the media team define where to make contact with the target, but also provides understanding of the reader need states, the contextual environment and emotional mindset. It gets right to the heart of the principle of "make the brand relevant to me and people like me". For Audi, this initial stage of the campaign planning has been well delivered with the choice of Emap2 as its partner and the three core titles.

However, the real genius of the overall campaign delivery has two elements.

First, the bravery of the Bartle Bogle Hegarty creative team in letting the creative idea "go" in order for it to be developed in new and highly effective ways in each title. This allows Emap's editorial understanding of its readers to be brought to bear. Sinister beauty has been given additional richness and an already powerful idea is allowed to breathe and gather momentum.

The campaign moves from "push" to "pull" using the readers' passions instead of the traditional "call this number for more information". Creatively, the different approach in each title does not deviate very far from the core campaign in look and feel, but very powerfully recognises customisation as an integral part of the target audience culture.

Second, the use of both print and internet exploits the role of each of these media in the world of music, film and design. Again, it brings depth way beyond double-page spreads and allows the target to take as little or as much as they need from the campaign. Brands such as Q understand how their readers use the web to feed their music needs and as well as taking their brand a stage further, offering exciting new content from advertisers such as Audi can only enhance its reader offering.

It may have been painful or a long time in the making, but this certainly looks like a great creative, media and media owner collaboration.

SCORE: 4 out of 5.