Audi Clowns.jpg

Send in the Clowns

Audi last fall introduced its “Clowns” campaign. It was a departure from Audi’s traditional straightforward, earnest communication — and it is working.

This campaign uses a troop of clowns to symbolize all the other idiots on the road (not you, of course) and the stupid things they do…and  suggests that Audi’s safety-focused technology (seniors, cameras, radars, and sonar equipment) will keep you safe — “Clown Proof” as the tagline puts it.

The metaphor is clever. Many automotive ads that emphasize safety features treat driving hazards quite literally — the careless child bicycling down the sidewalk, the rock that tumbles onto the road from an embankment, etc. This campaign really stands out in its lighthearted, metaphorical treatment of a quite serious topic. The contrast between the lunacy happening on screen and the mournful “Send in the Clowns” soundtrack is another memorable creative touch.

The results have been impressive. Associations between Audi and "intelligent technology" have jumped 14 percent in the second half of 2017 and it also led the market in “desire.”