As a car guy (but not really a sports guy) who works in advertising, my favorite part about the Super Bowl is watching the TV commercials for the each of the major automotive brands, especially Audi and its parent company Volkswagen. It is becoming tradition for commercials to get “leaked” earlier and earlier to maximize their online reach and create buzz prior to the Big Game, and this year is no different as Audi published their latest Superbowl commercial nearly a full week before the game.
2016: The Commander (R8)
The latest Audi Super Bowl commercial is named “The Commander” produced by Venables Bell & Partners about a retired astronaut who rediscovers his lust for life after taking a spin in the new Audi R8 Plus (note to my future kids, this will probably work on me too when I get older). While I think the spot is a little dark (is he suffering for Alzheimer’s? Depressed?), I think everyone can identify with the joy of going for a joy ride, no matter what age you are. Best of all, the spot is set to the tune of David Bowie.
2015: Not Applicable
According to AdAge.com, Audi took 2015 off from Super Bowl advertising. Audi declined to state why explicitly, but the average cost of airing just a 30 minute commercial is around $5,000,000, not to mention the costs to produce the ad itself – so I’d have to imagine saving costs was at least part of it. My suspicion is that in 2015 there weren’t any major new product launches for the brand – the TT redesign is a 2016 model year that didn’t hit dealerships until late 2015, but would have been the natural choice otherwise.
2014: Doberhuahua (A3)
This ad, also produced by Venables Bell & Partners was introducing the new Audi A3 and was all about not making compromises, illustrated by couple compromising between getting a Doberman and a chihuahua by getting a fictional cross-breed called the “Doberhuahua.” The message is clear – don’t compromise on what you want, get an A3 instead.
2013: Prom (S6)
This commercial featured the new S6 and follows a high schooler who gets to take his dad’s car to the prom as he discovers his “wild side” and parks in the principal’s parking spot then wins the girl of his dreams. It was somewhat controversial as detractors said it set a poor example of how young men should approach women and dating, but I always thought it was pretty cool.
2012: Vampire Party (A7)
This Super Bowl commercial was during all of the rage about the movie (and book) series Twilight, hence the Vampire theme. It featured the new A7/S7 and highlighted Audi’s LED lighting, which humorously cause the vampires to all disintegrate when they’re exposed to it.
2011: Release the Hounds (A8)
This was one of my favorite Audi commercials and it was wonderfully executed as it also included an online game and giveaway, which I entered and actually won a prize for participating in. In the spot Audi dispels the “stuffy” old world luxury image and positions themselves as the edgy alternative to old luxury. While the old luxury villans getaway in a Mercedes S Class (“their father owned one”), the hero of the spot drives the new A8 and gets away in style. Shots fired, Mercedes!
2010: Green Police (A3 TDI)
In hindsight this one is kind of ironic, as it was touting the A3 TDI as an environmentally friendly option, which after the Audi/VW diesel scandal we know that it is actually quite the opposite of environmentally friendly. Regardless, this spot pokes fun at being politically correct and overly sensitive to the environment, and suggests people buy an A3 instead.
2009: Chase with Jason Statham (A6)
Jason Statham is perhaps best known for being in the Transporter movies in which he drives Audis, so it was only natural to pick him for the Super Bowl commercials too. In this spot he goes back in time in various car chases until he finally gets a secret weapon to win against the bad guys – the new A6 Supercharged, which lets him evade the bad guys in style.
2008: The Godfather Parody (R8)
A cute parody of the instantly recognizable Godfather scene, which introduced the first Audi R8 in America. The spot also takes fire at “old luxury” as Audi has always been the underdog compared to Mercedes and BMW, and theme you see repeated throughout the years. It’s impressive that 8 years later the R8 still looks amazing, even as the completely redesigned model launches.