LONDON: Audi’s ‘Clowns’ campaign marked a departure for the auto marque but early brand metrics are looking promising according to the agency that developed the work.

In one way, it is just the latest iteration of the long-running Vorsprung Durch Technik tagline, but the focus has shifted away from the car itself to the intelligent technology it contains.

That came about when the new marketing director appointed in 2016 asked that the vehicles be depicted as a combination of beauty and brains.

“‘Tell that story and dare to be different’, was his brief,” Will Lion, BBH London Head of Strategy, told WARC. (For more read WARC’s exclusive report: Send in the clowns: Audi shows off its intelligent cars.)

The result is product demonstration with a difference as a long-form film shows clowns careering across the road in their vehicles while Audi’s intelligent technology protects fellow drivers from collisions, slowing down or performing emergency stops automatically.

The cars use sensors, radars, cameras and sonar equipment for a variety of purposes. Lion related how Audi’s engineers described one function as “the marriage saver”, as the tech measures the amount of sunlight coming in through the windscreen and falling on either the passenger or the driver and then adjusts the temperature locally for each person.

And this way of taking about tech with “humanity, comedy and charm” was a factor in the development of the creative.

“We saw how the tech was being elevated from something which was functional, dry and abstract into relatable, intuitive examples,” said Lion.

“It gave us an understanding that we needed to communicate how this technology made people feel on the roads if they were to get it and be impressed by it.”

Initial results from BBH indicate that the campaign is having the desired effect: associations with Audi and “makes cars with intelligent technology” rose by 14% in the second half 2017 and Audi led the market on ‘desire’ by 5% by the end of 2017.

In time, said Lion, “we’ll close the loop with the incremental sales effect using econometrics, showing the serious returns for all those silly clowns”.

Sourced from WARC