Audi : advertising & marketing profile

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Audi is the #2 brand by sales in the portfolio of European car manufacturer Volkswagen. Reinvented with a sharper premium image in 2002, it had become the group's most profitable business by the end of that decade and is still one of the main vehicles for continuing organic growth within Volkswagen. With a long-established reputation for stylish design and technological development, the brand is now being positioned as the main challenger to BMW's crown in the luxury and corporate markets. Audi forms the core of a stand-alone division within Volkswagen which is also responsible for the Lamborghini brand as well as sales and distribution of all Volkswagen Group vehicles in Italy. Like its sister brand VW, Audi has a global reputation for striking and innovative advertising. However, that reputation, like that of VW itself, took a hammer blow in 2015 following the "Dieselgate" scandal, in which the group admitted deliberately cheating emissions tests, mainly on VW and Audi vehicles. The costs of resolving that problem have been significant; but they don't appear to have had any lasting impact on sales. However, the prolonged subsequent investigation led to the shock arrest of Audi CEO Rupert Stadler in summer 2018 in connection with the case.

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Adbrands Company Profiles provide a detailed analysis of the history and current operations of leading advertisers, agencies and brands worldwide, and include a critical summary which identifies key strengths and weaknesses. Adbrands Account Assignments tracks account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets.  Subscribers may access the following website links:

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Volkswagen Group

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Social Media 3rd Sep 2018: "Big Entrance". The new Audi Q8 gets a suitably epic introduction in this new spot from BBH London. We remarked last week on the fact that BBH continues to deliver its most imaginative work for longtime client Audi, even as some of its other output falls a little short. Here the agency takes the simplest of ideas - launching a new car with a dramatic musical soundtrack - but adds the delicious little comic twist of showing us the orchestra as well in the incongruous setting of a container dock, tuning up in eager anticipation for the car's arrival and then cooling down again as the car moves off into the night. Nicely done.

Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Aug 2018: Ads of the Week: "Escape". BBH's creative output has been a little mixed over the past couple of years, but the London agency can still be relied upon to dig deep and pull out a plum for long-time client Audi. This new spot is no exception, a worthy follow-up, though completely different in tone, to last year's 'Clowns'. It grabs you from the very beginning with a cinematic cliffhanger which gradually segues into one of the best uses of comedic bathos we've seen for several months in an ad. A thoroughly entertaining piece of work. But one thing truly beggars belief. Can it really be true that new Audis offer a backseat foot-massager?!? 

Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jun 2018: German prosecutors arrested Rupert Stadler, long-serving CEO of Volkswagen's Audi brand, in connection with the Dieselgate emissions-cheating scandal. He has been jailed without bail to prevent possible interference in the ongoing investigation. Stadler is the most senior serving group executive to-date to be arrested. Volkswagen Group continues to defend and support him, but has temporarily relieved him of his management duties until the legal situation can be clarified. Abraham Schot takes over as interim CEO of Audi AG. Prosecutors had already named Stadler a suspect at the end of last month, but he refused to resign, claiming to have no knowledge of the cheating. His arrest follows a raid by police on his home last week in which evidence was apparently collected that suggested he might attempt to influence other suspects in the case.

Adbrands Social Media 11th Jun 2018: "Welcome to the 8th Dimension". German agency Thjnk was responsible for this luscious piece of auto-porn for the launch of Audi's completely new Q8 SUV. What a gorgeous piece of work. And the ad's pretty good too! Even non-petrolheads will find it hard not to salivate over the car when it's presented like this, in a mouth-watering orange finish. Normally we resist car ads that put all their energy into showing the product, the product and nothing but the product. But we'll make an exception in this case. 

Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Dec 2017: Ads of the Week: "A New Drive". BMW's luxury rival Audi has also been active this week. This fantastical new spot from German agency AvL/SE - part of the Serviceplan group - might lead you to believe that the new Audi g-tron is literally powered by the wind. Now that would be something! It's not quite the case, but the synthetic natural gas used in Audi's gas-powered engine technology is made using wind power rather than fossil fuels, so it's still about as green as you can get. It's a charming ad too, made in Germany but adaptable to almost any market with a different voiceover. So that's suitably renewable too. 


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Background

Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: Audi's familiar four-ring logo celebrates the foundation of the company through the merger of four separate German manufacturers in 1932, two of them associated with pioneering German engineer August Horch. Horch first began to make prototype automobiles in 1899, but by the early 1890s his backers had begun to feel he was concentrating more on speed than affordability, and he was ousted from A Horch & Cie in 1909. Instead he set up a new business. Barred from using his own name, he called the company Audi, after a Latin translation of his surname (which means "Hark!" in English). He continued to build racing models and cemented his reputation by winning the famous International Austrian Alpine Run race four years in a row. He also created a new standard for Europe's burgeoning car industry. Traditionally the driver of a coach and horses had always sat on the right; however Horch argued that left-hand drive gave a better view of the road, and built the first left-hand drive production model in Germany in 1921.

While Horch was experimenting with fast cars, elsewhere in Germany, Joergen Skafte Rasmussen was building a small engineering empire out of boiler fittings and textiles. Based in the town of Zschopau, he moved into powered vehicles in 1914, building a steam-driven coach, the Dampfkraftwagen or DKW. In the early 1920s Zschopauer DKW began making motorcycles, and had become the world leader by the end of the decade. In 1928, Rasmussen bought out August Horch, merging DKW and Audi-werke, and introducing a car that combined the best of both companies' technology. As a result of the huge success of his first combined model, Rasmussen went on to acquire Horch & Cie, as well, and another manufacturer, Wanderer. All four companies were merged in 1932 as Auto-Union AG, a company which made everything from light motorcycles to luxury saloon cars.

During World War II the company gave over its factories, located in what would become East Germany, to the production of military vehicles. As a result, all these facilities were confiscated in 1945 by the Soviet occupation forces, and Auto Union was formally dissolved in 1948. A year later, however, a new company was established in West Germany under the same name, and was granted permission by the US military to begin the production of light commercial vehicles. The company's first post-war passenger car was introduced in 1950.

At the time, the luxury end of Germany's car market was dominated by Daimler-Benz, which had managed to emerge from the war largely unscathed. In 1958, Daimler consolidated its hold on the market by acquiring a majority stake in Auto-Union, later buying out the minority shareholders as well. But the arrangement was destined not to last. In 1964, Daimler sold the business on to Volkswagen, then flush with the worldwide success of its hugely popular "Beetle" car. A few years later, VW merged Audi with another manufacturer, NSU, which had been making cars and motorcycles in Germany since 1906, and established the combined company as a standalone subsidiary. At the same time, VW began exporting Audi models around the world, commencing with the US market in 1970. The brand's famed "Vorsprung durch Technik" tagline was first introduced in 1971.

Over the next two decades, a string of Audi models enjoyed considerable success. None more so than the Audi Quattro, a four-wheel-drive sports coupe introduced in 1980. The all-wheel drive system proved so popular that it was eventually introduced as an option into all the marque's models. Other notable achievements were the first turbodiesel passenger cars of the 1980s, and the first production cars using a lightweight aluminium frame (now known as the Audi Space Frame). First used in the Audi A8 in 1994, it has been adapted for several other models. see full profile for current activities


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