Audi dedicates $25 million to A4 marketing budget

Audi of America has introduced the 2002 model of its best-selling A4 sports sedan with its largest launch budget ever.

Audi will spend $25 million in the fourth quarter. The entire amount will be dedicated to the redesigned A4, according to National Advertising Manager Mary Ann Wilson. That compares with $16 million in measured media for fourth quarter 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting in New York.

Audi’s effort comes on the heels of competitor BMW of North America, which introduced its 2002 model 3 series line on national cable and spot TV this month.

The A4’s other main German rival is the Mercedes-Benz C class. Mercedes-Benz began featuring its all-new sports coupe in national cable and spot TV commercials in July.

McKinney & Silver in Raleigh, N.C., created two 30-second spots for the A4 and several print spreads. In addition to a heavy TV rotation, the A4 will be the only product advertised for a month starting Nov. 1 on boards, kiosks and the floors of Manhattan’s Grand Central and San Francisco’ s Montgomery Street Station.

“We wanted to raise the profile of the A4” with the month-long “station domination” and expanded buys on high-profile programming such as NBC’s “The West Wing” and “Frasier,” said John Klein, McKinney & Silver’s media director.

The TV spots don’t focus on any of the improved aspects of the car. If anything, they understate the A4’s bigger size, improved optional V-6 engine and technological advances.

“We wanted to talk about the experience of driving the car,” said Cameron McNaughton, senior vice president and director of client services at McKinney & Silver. “It’s a stunning-looking car.”

One spot, done in a suspense-spy genre, shows a man driving the A4 on dark, deserted streets. “Suddenly, every ride is exciting,” the narrator says, as the viewer learns the driver merely went to pick up a pizza.

Launch commercials for the BMW 3 series and Mercedes C230 also aim for the emotions. The 3 series spot, by Fallon in Minneapolis, uses a strobe-light effect with fluctuating shots of the car and an owl, giving the impression both are moving, while suggesting a subtle comparison between flight and the car’s handling.

Merkley Newman Harty in New York created a single 30-second spot for the Mercedes C-class coupe. The spot uses the quirky Geggy Tah song “Whoever You Are” as a bearded 30-something male joyfully drives the car from the city to the country.

BMW also is hiking its fourth-quarter ad spending, and the new 3 series will get the bulk of it, said Jim McDowell, vice president of marketing. The brand spent $35 million in the year-ago period, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

In a year that has proven tough for many car brands, BMW and Mercedes have seen sales rise on entry-level luxury lines. BMW 3-series sales rose to 78,980 units through September vs. 64,281 a year ago. Mercedes-Benz C class sales grew to 35,274 units in the first nine months of the year from 24,229 a year ago.

Not unusual in the year before a redesign, Audi A4 sales were flat for the period. Audi sold 25,819 A4s through September, 149 fewer than a year ago.

You can reach Jean Halliday at

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