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.


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.


Lexus IS – Reveal film & ‘Blend Out’ print ad

A beautiful film by Lexus to reveal their 2014 Lexus IS #changelanes

And an interactive print ad for Lexus IS, where three models are promoting the Sports Illustrated magazine’s swimsuit edition, by modelling around the new Lexus IS. The video comes to life upon scanning the QR code.

It is a smart move by Lexus to engage their audience and exploit the theme of the edition to engage user in their product. It works well and just adds some fun around the car but it could have been better had Lexus showing some key features of the car or perhaps even a small reward. Since the user is already engaged, why not use it as an opportunity to explore further. Well, so far so good..hopefully the next one will have a better hook!

QR code made of Crates – Volkswagen Crafter

To prove the loading capacity of the Volkswagen Crafter, DDB Mexico installed a giant QR code made of wooden crates. The installation was placed at the largest wholesale market in Mexico where the potential targets could be reached. On scanning the QR code a video plays which shows that the entire installation can be carried in a Volkswagen Crafter.

It is a very clever idea and the video is beautifully done to prove the loading capacity of the Crafter. This installation was awarded a Bronze Lion in the Promo & Activation category.

Interesting QR Code Campaigns

QR codes have come a long way since their launch and over the years marketers have learnt to develop them in conjunction with the available technology, making them even more interesting. Their usage has come a long way since their primary purpose of receiving a text, revealing a rich media content or a simple message on prints ads, stickers etc . Today we see their innovative side in apps, on glasses and even on cars!

Guinness QR code Pint Glass

BBDO, New York and Guinness launched special QR code pint glasses where the code is revealed only after Guinness is poured in the glass. Lighter beers do not render the QR code and makes it look like as if the code is a part of the design on the glass. On scanning the QR code with, Guinness drinkers are invited to share their bar location and happenings with Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook and Instagram updates. Coupons and promotional offers are also available on scanning QR code at select locations.

This is a really clever idea because the code is revealed only when it is filled with a Guinness. The reason Guinness was able to pull this one off with some creativity is because it played on its color of beer vs the regular light /golden beer colors and used it to their advantage by coming up with a unique idea of standing out from their competitors. The coolest part is that the code is not visible when the glass is empty! Such ideas are cool to get people taking and spread such cool news about the brands via word of mouth at bars all over the city! I like the fact that it is simple and does not require much of an effort by the user to interact with it, after all people are not looking for a long boring experiment at bars when it comes to alcohol marketing, a simple instant trick is definitely more welcoming and fun!

Mercedes-Benz QR Code Trophies

To launch the new A -class model, Mercedes-Benz, Germany used the prototypes black and white patterns cleverly by replacing them with a QR code. People who spot the QR coded car should collect 4 QR code badges by scanning with the QR Trophy app. The collection of 4 badges automatically signs up the user to qualify  to win a trip to the world premier of the A-Class in Geneva. Besides the car the QR codes were also available on net and randomly distributed in the streets.

The QR code landing page for this campaign received over 50,000 visits and 80,000 trailer views, 2,860,000 Google hits and 6,800,000 Facebook impressions. The codes were not even popular among the users but also received huge response from the car-paparazzi.

This is quite clever since the prototypes of new models are already disguised in black and white and by using QR code nothing really changes i.e. the car design is still hidden but QR codes add fun and interest to the model. It is a fun way to create buzz about the new model and also engage the followers with its launch.

Emart 3D Shadow QR Code

Emart, Korea has come up with one of the most clever usage of QR codes, up to the same level as Guinness’s example above. Apparently the brief was to increase the sales in the lunchtime and keeping this in consideration  the QR code was active only from 12 to 1pm each day. Known as “The Sunny Sale” the 3D QR code was placed across the city and the sunlight casting a shadow on the QR code made it visible enough to be scanned. This made it all the more a Sunny Sale special considering it was naturally possible only in the afternoon/lunchtimes.

People who scanned the code received a special discount with 25% off redeemable in store or via the Emart mobile site. For such a mobile led idea to increase sales it is a good effort by Emart to include and consider the importance of having a mobile site in place. Over 12,000 coupons were distributed, Emart membership increased by 58% and 25% sales increased during the lunchtime hours.



Heineken QR Code T-Shirts

At the Open’er Music Festival in Poland Heineken made an amazing effort to bring people closer.

How many times have we been to a Music Festival and wanting to talk to people, make new friends, go on a date, have fun, blah blah blah! Heineken understood the audience and the mood at Music Festivals and gave people just what they needed to make it easier to approach people and have more fun at the festival.

QR CODES promoted as U-CODES by Heineken.

Heineken set-up a “U-Code Dome” at the Music Festival where people could personalize and print their QR codes and paste it on their clothes. Of course in such a fun scene there were people posting it on their hats, jeans bottoms, shoes, t-shirts and more.People exchanged thoughts, numbers, names etc via these codes.

A total of 5,000 codes were printed at the venue and thousands of people posted their pictures with the U-Codes on their Facebook wall. A really cool initiative by Heineken. Such a simple, quick and easy way to use QR codes to quickly connect people.


eBay: Give-A-Toy store Interactive Window Installation

This Christmas, eBay has put up an interactive window installation in New York at 35th and Broadway and in San Francisco at 11Post St. to allow people to instantly donate toys on the spot.

The interactive window shows a 3D Christmas scene with snowfall, train, gift box and toys. Each toy has a price tag with a QR code on it. People can scan the code using the eBay application and instantly donate the toy on the spot.

eBay users and other interested users who miss out on the window installation can donate online on http://cgi3.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewUserPage&userid=marinetoysfortots

The installation seems to have attracted a lot of people and the video above shares positive views by people who have interacted with it. One of the users mentioned that they could even change the scene in the window. It seems to be pretty engaging and wondering if they could have added some social elements to it including Facebook and Twitter to send information every time user scans or interacts with the installation using the eBay app, allowing users to share their experience online.