Audi has released a new commercial for the all-new 2011 Audi A8, taking on "old luxury and all of your wares" with a twist on the classic bedtime story, "Goodnight Moon."
When it comes to German luxury sedans, Audi is widely regarded by reviewers as the smartest kid in the class. But despite its technical prowess, highest-end features and the outstanding driving capability it builds into its vehicles, some luxury car aficionados still believe there's a prestige deficit between Audi and its German rivals, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Audi sort of embraces this in its advertising by proclaiming itself as new luxury. This commercial starts by blowing off what Audi considers traditional luxury -- literally, by blowing out candles on an ornate candelabra -- saying goodnight to bourgeoisie trappings like fox stoles, cufflinks and poodles. It ends with sweeping music and beauty shots of the new A8 while the voice-over says "good morning" to illumination, innovation and "unequalled inspiration."
Okay, that's all fine and good, but there's something that makes this ad counterproductive, at least in my eyes. Maybe it's the swelling, sweeping orchestral score, which is way too traditional and overwrought for a company proclaiming itself as "new" luxury. Maybe it's some of the imagery that the commercial mocks. What, Audi doesn't want its owners to live in mansions or wear cufflinks?
But I think the biggest problem is that Audi is still comparing itself to Mercedes-Benz, and by doing so, it automatically plays the role of second fiddle. Think about it. Pepsi always compares itself to Coke, while Coke's ads almost always ignore the fact that it even has competition. Now, which of the two is the perpetual second-best seller?
Audi could learn a lesson from the sugar-water wars. As long as it compares itself to Mercedes-Benz, it will pigeonhole itself as second best in the minds of consumers. Instead, it should let its outstanding products speak for themselves. As the smartest kid in the class, Audi should already know that.