Rad spotting in Audi’s Super Bowl Ad

Audi released its advertisement for the Super Bowl this weekend featuring the e-tron Sportback. Their model names are confusing to write about. I never know which letters are capitalized and which aren’t.

Maisie Williams drives the e-tron while singing “Let It Go” from Frozen.

It’s an okay ad.

Time to get Rad

If you freeze it when she is stuck in traffic, there are a lot of rad and pre-rad vehicles around her. GM makes the biggest impact with a squarebody Suburban, another squarebody pickup in the back, a 1980s Caprice, and an almost hidden G-series Van. There is also a late-model Chevy truck and a Cadillac Escalade limo. Dodge is there as well with a 70s Charger and a Tradesmen van. Chrysler has a K-car variant in there as well. There’s a first-gen Raptor. I’m not sure what model the red car is, but I’m leaning Ford. What else did I miss?

In another scene, there is a first-generation Chrysler minivan too.

As a marketer, I struggle with these ads. It is a huge spend for the time allotted and it’s going to be analyzed and dissected for weeks. The old adage that there’s no such thing as bad PR is probably what leads companies to take these risks. Personally I wouldn’t do it.

I’m all for electric vehicles and I would like to own one. I’m not ready to pull the trigger on something as expensive as the e-tron. Range anxiety is still real for me. There was an anecdote recently about a Tesla touring national parks and not charging well enough at the motel or public chargers to still be the couples the reliable source of transportation. They ended up in a motel employee’s Subaru Outback to go get dinner.

It’s a fun story to tell your friends when it’s just you and your significant other. Adding four kids to the story changes it from “we had an adventure” to “we survived a nightmare.” Ask me about the five-hour travel day that turned into 13 the next time we see each other.

20 Comments

  1. It’s a weird ad in that they are willingly riding the “better than thou”-wave that I think EV owners need to avoid…especially if going for a damn luxury vehicle, looking down on a sea of (nicely polished) beaters. I guess it’s human to turn into a missionary once you make a choice you consider as progressive, but it doesn’t help the car from the other’s point of view.

    A friend of mine has just ordered one of these Audis. They are priced like a normal wagon here due to our tax incentives, but he bakes it into the house loan and is otherwise not very good with money either. Stretches himself thin for a vehicle that is projecting success, and even I as a car guy think it is an odd move. He should have let this one go…

    1. Aye, pretty counterproductive, but I guess I’m not the target audience. All I could think was is Audis strategy “hey kids, wanna drive the least cool car in this ad while singing disney tunes like a nerd?” ..while hoping you won’t notice these weasels were the original dieselgate perpretrators and are now rushing down another eco cul-de-sac that people are going to wake up to in a view years with similar knee-jerk “I thought I was doing the right thing” rage – the large battery EV. A vehicle that only justifies its inherent CO2 manufacturing cost through patterns of high energy use.

    2. Aye, pretty counterproductive, but I guess I’m not the target audience. All I could think was is Audis strategy “hey kids, wanna drive the least cool car in this ad while singing disney tunes like a nerd?” ..while hoping you won’t notice these weasels were the original dieselgate perpretrators and are now rushing down another eco cul-de-sac that people are going to wake up to in a view years with similar knee-jerk “I thought I was doing the right thing” rage – the large battery EV. A vehicle that only justifies its inherent CO2 manufacturing cost through patterns of high energy use.

      1. I am not quite decided on the merits of the large battery EV yet. They could possibly have a near endless life cycle and offer a few very tenable benefits. I would also tend to have respect for “nerds”, despite the word becoming as flexible and as useless as “hipster” or “milennial” – you might be right though, high earning tech employees should be the spot-on target audience here.

        1. I’m a tech employee, just not high earning, but it’s all relative I guess. Current batteries don’t have an infinite lifespan (most have an expected life of 100,000 miles, probably will do more, but that’s what manufacturers rate them for), but you’ve nearly got to do that just to break even on a small petrol car to “break even” on CO2 in many cases. The less you drive, the longer it takes to break even and ideally you want to break the big commute by car culture anyway. The less people drive to work, the less energy is used, and yet, ironically, the less you drive, the less most EVs make sense. You can kinda see why something like the Honda E or Mazda CX-30 decideded not to go for lots of range. Usually, if you follow what Mazda are doing, you’re on the right track in the real world vs tests – e.g. they rejected small capacity turbos in heavy-ish cars for the most part, only did Diesels because they had to in Europe.

          1. Yeah, I agree on most points and my perspective might be skewed a bit by Nordic news. Our climate is very EV-friendly, i.e. it never gets hot. The latest data I can find is that the 8 year battery warranty on the Leaf has been used by less than 0.1% of European owners. There are Leaf taxis approaching seven digits. Used car batteries don’t get binned, but end up in hobby-solar-panel-houses or get processed professionally. You can get new batteries for the lousy 1. gen Leaf at 40 and 60 kWh, replacing detoriated 24 kWh units that are not entirely worthless. I expect fancier aftermarket stuff for Audis, and wildly improving battery tech in general.

            The most important point is breaking commuting culture though. You’re right. But I don’t see this happening anytime soon with all the infrastructure that is in place everywhere. We, for one, are not going to move from our rural paradise unless we can’t afford it. We’ll probably FIRE first…

      1. There was a lot of this nonsense in Ireland pre-2008 crash. Banks giving out 100% mortgages and telling people, sure here, take an extra 50 grand for improvements and ordinary folk going out and buying Range Rovers and stuff. When that starts happening in your country, get worried.

        1. Definitely happened here back then too. Car finance has been tightened up a lot more recently which is why sales have declined over the last 18 months, and probably longer in the private market.

      1. They’re on 20 years and so were we. Typically at 2%-ish interest. We paid off our loan after five years though, which is doable with Norwegian salaries and a bit of financial wit. It is super common to bake car loans into the house though, due to otherwise favourable conditions. Oddly, he will also still be paying off a then-sold Volvo V70 diesel after getting the Audi…

      1. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is great family entertainment, and showing some contemporary concepts (girls solving a situation by themselves, no prince required), but these talking dolls that repeat the key bars on the press of a button….

  2. 0.5 seconds of that actually showed that it was anything approaching an EV. The rest was so vague and generic it could have been better suited for just about anything, transportation related or not.

    Seems like an interesting way to spend several million dollars.

    1. I won’t watch the commercial, but the lyrics of the song struck me as unfit for a car: tearing down all connections to your past and seek isolation which you interpret as freedom, refusing to work with the situation but run away…

      But maybe there is a truth in it for Audi, they can’t control the emissions, they tried to conceal it only to blow the curtains off, and now they stomp forward, doing SEVs (SUV x EV, I think I am being clever) and feeling righteous about it.

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