Trash-Talking: Audi A8 Says Good Night

January 26, 2011
If you are located anywhere in North America, or are a fan of American football, you know the Super Bowl is coming, which means a few things: Excess, Advertising overload, beer-swilling and pizza joints across the hemisphere are rejoicing at the impending eat-o-rama. Oh, and I almost forgot, lots of trash-talking too.

Seems like the heavyweights of the auto industry are ready to do battle in the biggest sporting event in North America, namely Audi and Mercedes-Benz, and we are not talking about their respective A-class cars. Nope the big boys, the ones that say “I used T.A.R.P. money to buy this car after I pillaged the orphans home.” It’s the A8 vs. the S-Class. The two monsters of the luxury class that bring in nice profits and even more prestige for the respective auto makers.

The Message
This commercial has been running for a bit, and it took me a few viewings and other blog posts to get my head around why this is an interesting approach. Audi really takes a pot-shot at the S-Class in this ad, essentially saying, if you drive an S-Class, you’re old school, stuffy, predictable, or just plain old. Whether or not you agree with that assertion, the imagery of “old money” is really cartoonish in this ad. And it has to be to get the point across. Everything has gold plating or a cornice edge, or fluff. It’s a baroque setting that screams excess. Drive the S-Class with those Gothic front fenders and Batman rear-end, and prepared to be labeled as passé. Which I disagree with.

Of course, if you drive an Audi A8, you’re a winner, you’re inspired, you’re modern, innovative, etc. That’s a given. The imagery with the Audi is clean, clear lines, up to date, ahead of the curve and where the future lies. The gorgeous Audi interior shots help to mix the idea of wealth and modernity, and a special place to be. It’s Audi’s calling card, which is why they emphasized it in the ad. OK, that kind of trash-talking in the Super Bowl ad frenzy isn't anything new. However, the idea Audi took to convey this message is a little off-beat.

The Message Vehicle
The inspiration for this story is obviously the children’s bedtime story Goodnight Moon. And I find that odd. It’s a story about peace and rest, passing into slumber, the innocence of childhood, the sweet world of bedtime where parents kiss their kids good night. So how did they make the jump from that to dissing the standard-bearer of German luxury. It’s just plain weird, but in a strange way it works.

The Favorite
Need I remind you that in terms of sales figures, prestige and presence, the S-Class, albeit dated, still outpoints the A8. And this was driven home to me by an acquaintance who is a real life Porsche test driver. This guy drives every high-end car known to man all the time, and he said that if he wanted a big luxo-cruiser for covering a continent, he’d choose an S-Class over anything out there. And he’s driven them all. What that said to me was Audi (let alone BMW) has a long way to go before it can dethrone the king, no matter how “old money” it is. The S-Class does it best. And insulting old money isn’t usually a way to win new converts.

[The CarConnection, Media Post]

Audi A8 Commercial

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