A View from Blue Grotto

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Affinity for Sale

Corporate Objective: Increase brand recognition in the United States; drive U.S. sales of new vehicle, the 2007 Audi Q7.

Strategy: Partner with companies that have similar values and share a high-income target audience to promote Audi as part of the luxury lifestyle.

Tactics: Create an upscale, 10-city road show with product displays, educational seminars, and interactive activities by affinity partners. Let attendees test-drive the new vehicle and other Audi vehicles under a variety of conditions.

Results: Sold 2,800 vehicles as a direct result of the event, generated more than 100 media mentions (about 21.3 million impressions).
{taken from Audi of America: Affinity Marketing, Summer 2007 Corporate EVENT magazine}

In the category of Impressive Marketing Campaigns, I cast my vote for Audi’s 2006 product launch of its Q7 SUV. It sounded like a brilliant idea – create upscale events that would draw in customers. The strategy to “partner with companies that have similar values” is what struck me as most intriguing. Though of course, the end-game is to sell the car, Stephanie Valentine from Audi explained that the real objective was brand marketing, “Our goal was to focus 50 percent on vehicles and 50 percent on lifestyle…” So, how does an automaker focus on lifestyle?

By aligning themselves with other products and services that reflect the same “premium value proposition as Audi: performance, quality, luxury, and personalization.” So if a young couple at the 2-day event could picture themselves enjoying the most recent DVD release on their $100K Bang & Olufsen home entertainment system, or learned how to create the perfect salmon bisque through a hands-on cooking demonstration, they might be able to also envision themselves driving the Audi SUV (base price of $50K).

At Blue Grotto, we are continually helping clients to articulate their history and values. I think it is rare that a company invites another company to help position, even define, their brand. But, Audi risked it, and the risk paid off. According to Corporate Event magazine, nearly 15,000 people attended the 10-city tour, 81 percent of them new Audi prospects, and Audi sold 2,800 vehicles as a result. In identifying companies who represent the same values of Audi, Audi proved it is indeed the company you keep.

I am curious to hear about other "Impressive Marketing Campaigns." I would also be curious to hear about whom you would invite to partner with – on a product launch, an event, a research project…And, of course, there are bonus points for how the campaign supports your company’s values and philosophies.

Log onto http://www.exhibitoronline.com/ to read the full article in the Summer 07 magazine.

By the way, this is the second post in a row that I have referenced the marketing tactics of the auto industry. They've either got it right, or are working hard to figure it out. Clearly, personal values play a BIG role in the kind of car you purchase. $50K is a lot of money, no matter how you look at it.

Yvonne Hundshamer
President, Blue Grotto Inc.