Why I respect Audi for their recent efforts.

A deep thought based on my own experience and that of my close friends in the advertising and digital industry makes me want to clap and declare Hans Thurner and Floris Dreesman the two men our industry needs to thank today. Rather than criticizing the Audi City experiment.

Audi understands what digital means. So what is digital?

Let’s keep this one short. Digital marketing is using electronic devices to engage with customers. Fact is that many brands just stopped here and are still learning to create presentations to educate their co-workers on what is digital. Just look closely, we are surrounded by digital. Everything has gone digital. Digital is not just online. TV is digital (Shazam TV tags, GetGlue and Viggle). Print is digital (QR codes, Blippar and AR tags). Experiential is digital and Audi has landed there with a crown.

Audi is able to connect to their target audience by investing in online and offline experiences that are meaningful, fun and provide a benefit. Sometimes even just fun to have a good time and participate in love for cars. Cool cars.

Audi – Print is digital

It somehow says ….I will not bore you with a lead management link to tell you to go online. You will do it because this film is so bloody awesome that even if you don’t like cars, the sound of this will make you want to talk about it, share it and read more about it.

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On scanning this ad with Blippar, you see this beautiful film, a sneak peak at what this beast is up to roaring away in madness.

Audi Online experience – For Fun

#WantAnR8 contest is the third one by Audi and this time on Tumblr because they wanted to turn up the game here. Their target audience are getting smarter, using sophisticated technology and becoming natural at participating in initiatives online. A really clever move here to move away from the norms like Facebook and Twitter and use the Tumblr’s freedom of theme & functionality to create a fun filled online experience.

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Audi offer about 40 short clips and 10 audio effects to let users create their own Audi R8 story. This video is then hosted on their YouTube page to house user-generated content. It just does not stop here. A part of this exercise is also to learn what a majority of customers prefer, what angles they like to see in videos and what sort of audio energy is desired. Audi has not used any paid media to push the campaign and generated about 100 submissions in just first 5 hours of launch followed by 200 in the first 4 days. Not bad at all for an organic growth.

I must say I spent about 40 minutes trying to create an awesome clip and absolutely enjoyed every little part of it. Audi did not push me in the end to rush me to their site and try to sell any other models, if not the R8. I was intrigued enough to swim around for some information on V10 and just read up. But if I were to buy in the near future a V10 beast, I will remember to check Audi out and recommend it to interested sports car buyers.

Audi Online Experience – For use

Audi has extended the success of the A1 eKurzinfo app to A3 models. The A3 app helps the drivers to learn more about their car via visualizations rather than boring A3 bible manuals! It provides them instant access to detailed step by step information on how to complete particular tasks. e.g. how to locate the engine coolant. This is definitely useful for the first-time buyers who have poor knowledge on technical topics that are good to know about their car. Of course, there are inductions held to understand your own vehicle but we forget these over time and instant access available to such data is reassuring.

The app recognises more than 300 elements of A3 and reflects all the data saved in cloud-based architecture. It is currently available in English, German and Japanese on the Apple Store.

That was the customer service going digital. Online. Now what about offline.

Audi Experiential

Here they have shaken things up with Audi City Showroom. The first virtual showroom without any cars. I have already blogged about it when they launched it but was lucky enough to visit RTT Excite 2013 in Munich where I was delighted to attend the presentation by Hans Thurner and Floris Dreesman on Audi City.

Why I respect Audi so much today?

Well 200 people at Audi and 70 of their partner agencies have been sweating it out to change the automotive buying behaviour. While still producing their online banners and Facebook applications that some think are digital gods of this online space, Audi is investing time and efforts to change all that you think you know about selling cars online or offline. They are capturing the whole universe around it making customers dependable on them and these new technologies making yours redundant in the next 2 years. Today you are developing dealer tool kits killing trees printing massive old skool stuff, Audi and even BMW are using digital to sort data and virtualise all that jazz on a sheet of paper, making it come alive and hit your senses. Tablets are the future.

I fail to grasp how automotive employees criticize a concept like Audi City. The frustration of our generation is about following old school rules coming in the way of doing what our generation wants to see, wants to be and wants to show. We want to create it because we want to use that.

Remember what Ferdinand Porsche said I couldn’t find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself.

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