Mission Aura, in 3D

Gokul Krishnamurthy | Updated on February 02, 2011 Published on January 26, 2011

Aspirational super-premium car.

German luxury automaker Audi's flagship sedan, the A8 L, has been unveiled in India. While the A8 was launched in India at a price band starting at about Rs 75 lakh, the A8 L, expected to compete with the Mercedes Benz S Class and the BMW 7-Series, will sport a price tag that's a tad higher — around Rs 1.35 crore. What makes this car so exclusive? A lot of things, starting with the longer wheel base, power-adjustable and heated rear seats, with an optional ventilation and massage function!

Aesthetics and technology came together to create this motorised wonder. The challenge then was for the manufacturer to communicate the aspirational superpremium the car represents.

Faced with this challenge, the agency, Creativeland Asia, turned to Maslow for inspiration. It took the client and agency a month to arrive at and agree on the approach, and another six months to execute the campaign. The result is what is billed as the first integrated 3D campaign spanning film, Web, brochure (direct mailer) and more. The intent is to allow prospective customers to experience the features the car boasts. Admittedly, it had to be a car brand at the extreme high end to justify a 3D campaign, and the positioning of ‘Advanced State of Mind' — Maslow's ‘self-actualisation' zone.

“The whole campaign was about creating and capturing the mindset of those seeking ‘self-actualisation'. The idea is to recruit more and more people who fall into the ‘progressive mindset' zone that Audi seeks to address. With the A8 L campaign, we're creating that niche on top of the Maslow pyramid, in the luxury cars segment,” said Sajan Raj Kurup, Founder and Creative Chairman, Creativeland Asia.

The targeted numbers seem achievable. Audi had a dream run in India in 2010, growing at 81 per cent year-on-year, while market leader BMW grew at 73 per cent (6,246 cars). Audi hopes to do even better in 2011. While volumes will be driven by upcoming models such as the A6, the A8 L is being projected as the flagship, and deservedly so — it is the most expensive car from the Audi stable.

“We sold 3,003 units in 2010, exceeding our projected growth, up from 1,658 cars sold in 2009. The target for 2011 is to sell 5,000 cars in the Indian market,” revealed Michael Perschke, Director, Audi India. On the company's most expensive sedan, Perschke said, “The Audi A8 L is an aspirational car, and we would like to appeal to every Indian through our marketing campaign. At a juncture when they consider purchasing an Audi, we aspire to be the first choice for Indians.”

The thrust of the 3D campaign is on delivering the experience of the A8 L, and television will not be the lead medium. Another film for television, one that showcases the A8 L while spreading the aura that Audi seeks to create, is on its way.

Clemens Olmert, Head of Marketing, Audi India, explained that as the A8 L was the most premium offering in the Audi stable, the attempt was to have a marketing strategy that mirrored the product. “Exclusively enjoyed by a chosen few while aspired for and intriguing for a larger audience,” he added.

Given the premium nature of the category for the A8 L, the target audience is reasonably well-defined and finite, rendering 3D execution feasible. Direct mailers (DMs) didn't go out in envelopes — they were sent in exclusive black boxes. The contents included a 3D brochure and custom-made anaglyphic 3D glasses that allow the features painstakingly presented in the brochure to leap out at the recipients. The DM also invited prospects to experience the car on what is billed as India's first 3D micro site. The film is also on the Web site. Touchscreens and 3D screens at showrooms and other premium audience locations are part of the campaign.

Much like the car, the Web site has been thought through. Allowing for 3D and 2D viewing, it encourages visitors to stop at any point to explore a particular feature of the car in greater detail.

The agency will also build 3D iPad and iPhone applications and other mobile versions of the site. Creativeland Asia, Crocodile films, The Mill, London and Vision3 were at work. Elements of the 3D campaign from India are also being considered for international markets.

At the luxury end of the auto world, one wonders if creating brand loyalty would be tougher. Raj Kurup reflected on Audi's task: “In terms of positioning, we're clearly defined by those with an evolved, progressive mindset. It's about being able to deliver a fabulous brand experience. It's about telling customers the right story, and treating them well.”

Published on January 26, 2011
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