Audi has been known to poke fun at its competitors. The most infamous jab came in 2004 when Audi made fun of the Lexus LS’s self parking technology. The ridicule of Lexus continues in their new web site experience for the new A4 campaign, but Lexus isn’t the only one to take a hit or two. Mercedes and BMW owners are called out for their stereotypes too.
Meet the Beckers is an episodic experience that has more to do with the “what group do you fit into?” marketing communication approach. The luxury market is ripe with tons of stereotypes about the owners of particular brands: snobby, elitist, arrogant, and just plain assholes who think because they have a nice car they own the road, and two parking spaces (sorry Audi, your owners do it too.) With plenty to make fun of, Audi decided to do some comedy webisodes that highlight these stereotypes and, of course, show the sane, cool driver drives an Audi.
So, how does one find Meet the Beckers? Automotive blogs started promoting it first and I have yet to see any media put behind the site. The Audi USA site does not list the site anywhere off its home page or on the A4 vehicle pages or the A4 launch site. It is also non-existent from the current campaign Truth in Engineering I’m guessing a site that is more about exaggeration doesn’t really fit with “truth”, so Audi has let “Meet the Beckers” live on its own, separate from the current A4 and brand campaigns.
Having a site that is outside of the current brand and vehicle campaign, that even Audi acknowledges doesn’t fit in its current communications (evidenced by the difficulty of finding the Meet the Beckers), is something I don’t recommend since it is so disconnected from everything else they are putting out there about their product. So, Meet the Beckers just doesn’t fit with what Audi is doing.
The site does have the expected YouTube Channel. Views are decent, considering there is no media supporting the content. Unfortunately, nothing is really unique about the content or experience with the channel and you wonder why Audi didn’t just avoid the channel cost and post the videos up on the YouTube site without the burden of a channel to manage.
Regarding the site, there are a couple key things missing. Most prominent is a link to the Audi A4 for information about the product the site is promoting. Also, there is no way to share the video content through Facebook or MySpace. The site is expected to get views through viral communications yet Audi only provides links to “digg it”, “del.icio.us”, and “send to a friend.” The send to a friend execution simply opens one’s email software and places the following language in the body of the message:
Every Thanksgiving the Becker family plays football. And every Thanksgiving, things get worse.
Visit the link below to watch the game unfold.
Meet the Beckers. You're invited.
Does the content relate to the target and is the content funny? I felt the content was right on as I personally enjoyed and felt other consumers in this space would find the jabs funny and offensive in a fun way. Well, after doing a non-scientific poll on a well-known BMW enthusiast site, the verdict is in: 80% of the audience I polled enjoyed the first episode and left comments in support of the site; even though, the site really digs in hard against the BMW arrogant, asshole stereotype. Will everyone get it? No. But the enthusiast consumer does and it looks like that was Audi's aim.
All in all, the site does have some merits but the merits are outside of Audi’s current Truth in Engineering campaign and, therefore, will die a slow viral death since it doesn’t really fit within Audi’s major marketing efforts. I’m guessing Meet the Beckers came up in some brainstorming around what do with the new A4 campaign and someone felt it still was worthwhile to pursue even though the direction went elsewhere.
UPDATE 11/04/2008: Audi released episodes 2 & 3 and well let's just say they fell flat. The humor just wasn't as fun the second and third time around. Unfortunately, only the first video was worth watching and overall the concept became more about the ridiculousness of the characters (even the Audi guy became annoying in his normal-ness.) I did also learn that Audi did run some media to the site when episode 2 went live, they had some banners on ESPN.com. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to catch the messaging.