Audi Marketing Chief: The Story Behind Our ‘Doberhuahua’ Super Bowl Spot – Forbes
It’s tough to get the picture of the Doberhuahua, the unfortunate melding of a Doberman Pinscher and a Chihuahua, out of your head after watching Audi Audi’s 2014 Super Bowl spot, from San Francisco ad agency Venables Bell & Partners. But that’s probably the point. The question is, will the picture of the Audi A3 stick in your head too?
Audi of America VP-Marketing Loren Angelo thinks it will, thanks to the stop-your-partying creative and on-point message of the ad—that the new entry-level luxury sedan A3 requires no compromise, unlike so many other things in life.
Audi’s been a fixture in the Big Game for seven years, often featuring a new car in its ads. Last year, its spot “Prom” featured three alternative endings, and viewers were invited to choose the ending. A year before that, “Vampire Party” highlighted its cars’ LED headlights. In 2011, it used a Twitter hashtag—#ProgressIs—in its Super Bowl spot at the time, a first, the brand claims. Like other Super Bowl marketers, Audi will be ready to respond in real-time to any goings-on in and around the game that give it an opportunity to engage with its consumers with content via vehicles such as Snapchat; its social-media command center in Brooklyn at its digital agency Huge is set up and ready for action. “That’s what makes or breaks the big story,” Angelo said.
I caught up with him to get the backstory on the ad and why Audi keeps going in the game.
Why advertise in the Super Bowl year after year?
We’re always looking to up the creative story that will bring up a lot of big social conversation. It’s a simple formula for us: This is a tremendous opportunity to make a big statement. And that’s what Audi is about. We can make a big statement creatively, in the social space, a conversation, and it makes a big business statement for us. We started back in 2008 and we were selling around 80,000 new cars in American annually [at the time]. We’ve seen business increase 15-20% year-over-year since then. At the end of 2013, we had 158,000 new car sales. We’ve seen America respond [to our Super Bowl ads] and ultimately drive demand to our dealerships.
Do you make the decision to advertise each year or just assume you’ll keep doing it?
We make the decision every year depending on what products were going to launch. We look at when those launches are going to happen and [whether] this a year that we need to elevate that story in a big way. For the past seven years it’s made sense. We’ve seen a continuation of our top brand image metrics grow to all-time highs and then we’ve lined that up with the product message for our brand story. The way we approach it each year is you have to look at it in context of, what is the strategy for our brand? We’ve doubled our brand consideration. We do have other high-profile platforms [for our advertising, such as the Emmys]. We have very much engaged our social media base that keeps our brand top of mind. The marketing for the brand and the positioning of the brand as a strong premium brand in America has shifted, in the right way. We will evaluate it every year to see if there are other platforms that are just as effective and see where we are with our launches and our brand story.
Who made the decision, you or the agency?
We make the decision at Audi of America as to [whether] we are going to be in the Super Bowl. Then it’s a six-to-nine-month process of how we develop that idea. What is the cultural connection we’re going to make so that it really connects with America? We make these statements and it goes through a variety of creative concepts. The real game is won when you take a 60-second TV spot and you leverage it across all of your social channels and ultimately make a bigger conversation out of that TV spot—really leaning into things that everyone has an opinion on.
Why did you go with this creative?
What drove us this year was the fact that we were introducing the A3, an entry-level luxury sedan. Usually when [the target for this car] is buying into this segment they have to make a lot of compromises. This is an Audi through and through. It has all of the things that you wouldn’t expect—really there are no compromises in this car at all. We all make compromises every day and we knew American could relate to that. Doberhuahua ultimately came from that idea.
Why highlight the A3?
In this case it was an easy choice. This is a tremendous momentus occasion for the brand. This segment is completely new. We wanted to make a big statement and we wanted to make it clear that our car, unlike competitors, takes no compromises.