Audi: Brand 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.

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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:

Audi website

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Volkswagen Group

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Oct 2017: Ads Of The Week: "Clowns". Here's more evidence of an upsurge in creative quality at BBH London, which now seems finally to be getting to grips with the series of management departures that had tarnished some of the agency's lustre. This campaign for Audi displays all the wit and imagination that we always used to associate with the agency. We love that the entire ad seems to spin off from the simple observation that "the roads are full of clowns these days". BBH takes that observation at face value to show how Audi can protect you from them. Don't worry if you find clowns sinister rather than funny; that viewpoint will only add to the film's impact!

Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Sep 2016: Ads of the Week "Duel". Audi is getting political with this new spot from Venables Bell & Partners, which first aired just before that friendly little chat between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The idea being that the presidency isn't the only thing worth fighting for. But you don't find out what the prize is for these protagonists until the end of the spot (you've probably got a pretty good idea though). There are (apparently) political references throughout. So we know about elephants and donkeys, but which party has a lobster as its mascot?

Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Dec 2015: Ads of the Week "Candide Thovex". For some real edge-of-the-seat suspense, take a look at this staggering film for Audi France from Lowe Strateus. Skiing a black run is challenging at the best of times; how about if it doesn't have any snow on it? French champion Candide Thovex manages the almost impossible to symbolise just how rugged Audi's quattro technology can be. That sound you hear is the noise your jaw makes when it hits the ground.

Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Oct 2015: Ads of the Week: "Rainmaker?". Volkswagen's Audi brand hopes to power on through the emissions scandal with this spectacular new spot from its German agency, indie Thjnk. The theme is once again the weather - see, it's not just the British who are obsessed with the elements - following up an earlier rain-related campaign. Great ad, and by the standards of most German advertising, truly ahead of its class. 

Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Oct 2015: Dietmar Voggenreiter was named as executive director of global sales & marketing for Volkswagen Group's Audi brand, succeeding Luca de Meo, who has transferred to chief executive of the Skoda business.


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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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