Audi sells about 100,000 cars a year in the US. They don’t move products in volumes like Coca-Cola, Samsung, Budweiser or even Go Daddy. So if they’re going to invest untold millions of dollars in the making and airing of a Super Bowl spot, it needs to do more than just improve Q2 sales figures. It needs to enhance the way the Super Bowl audience feels about their brand. They need to create emotional resonance not just with the consumers who might consider buying an Audi but also some measure of admiration and esteem for the people who drive them. That’s badge value in its purest sense.
I think Audi succeeded at the Super Bowl with their charming coming-of-age story. A boy–old enough to drive to his prom, apparently, but not confident enough to secure a date—is thrown the keys to his Dad’s Audi S6. ‘Have fun tonight,’ his Dad says. This is Audi’s performance sedan and our tuxedoed teenager makes the most of the opportunity. From the moment the engine roars to life, as he pulls up next to a limousine of fellow prom-goers, through to the moment he slides into the principal’s reserved spot at his high school, he emerges from the S6 a changed man at prom.
Brimming with newfound poise, he marches into the dance hall and steals a kiss from the Prom Queen, who gives almost as good as she gets.
His reward for the risk? A black eye from the Prom King and a primal scream as he races away with newfound confidence and vigor. Great energy, great story.
For me, and for my co-viewing audience, Audi scored with this spot. There was an immediate connection with the boy, to his triumph. Audi isn’t selling cars on Super Bowl Sunday. They’re selling dreams. And this was a dream that many of Audi’s audience may have had themselves, only this time powered by the product. As Audi now puts it, ‘bravery wins.’