Audi gets aspirational about the road ahead

The luxury brand again looks to the future to guide drivers out of the pandemic and show its own electric ambitions.
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Audi Canada is adapting its future-focused messaging to encompass both the path ahead from COVID and its more electrified vehicle portfolio.

The first spot in the new “The Road Ahead” campaign is called “Get ready to get going again,” and as the name suggests, it references metaphorical bumps in the road Canadians have faced thanks to the pandemic, positioning itself as a partner to help them prepare for the journey back to normalcy. Cut downs highlight some of the practical ways the automaker is doing that, such flexible payment and online shopping options. Each spot, with intertwined roads twisting in different directions, is tagged with the aspirational “the road ahead is something we can all look forward to.”

“The Road Ahead fits perfectly with our current strategy,” says Gene Fong, director of marketing for Audi Canada, who says that it was specifically designed to combine its existing brand positioning with COVID concerns in mind. “Audi has always been future-focused, and the current situation requires the need for ‘progress’ more than ever.” He says the brand’s portfolio has evolved to include more electrified options, such as the e-tron Sportback, the automaker’s all-electric vehicle that is a focal point of the campaign.

The Sportback is a car Audi’s new CEO Markus Duesmann has called “a cornerstone” of the brand’s electrification strategy, a higher-end EV analysts are calling a direct competitor to Tesla’s upcoming tri-motor next generation roadster. Higher horsepower “S” versions of the Sportback are coming to the market next year, while non-S versions are in Canada now. Audi CFO Arno Antlitz says the brand will continue to invest in future technologies and that 12 billion euros (approximately $19 billion dollars Canadian) is going to be invested in electric mobility by 2024.

According to Fong, the brand’s approach of building off consumer insights to develop creative that pushes forward ended up referencing specific processes it developed and implemented at the retail level, like financing options that include lease-like payment schedules. This is because, Fong says, it is important to provide comfort and options for customers looking to buy a vehicle, this as it aims to become the top premium brand by “providing the best brand experiences in the industry.”

While Audi was in third place behind Mercedes-Benz and BMW for Canadian luxury sales in 2019,  Fong says Audi led the industry in the premium segment in June, during a period when most auto brands have been struggling to maintain sales.

The full national media campaign, aimed at customers within various stages of the purchase funnel, includes broadcast TV, OOH, online and social video and digital display ads. It also includes media partnerships with Google and TheScore sports app.  For retail, it maintained the brand messaging within the assets that targeted customers who were closer to purchase. Audi with agency partners Taxi, Touché and Huge on the campaign.