Looks like BMW may be coming around to seeing things Audi's way — at least when it comes to advertising in the United States — by adding a light dash of humor to its marketing messaging.
The two German brands are duking it out for global leadership in luxury sales. But two things about their brawl are clear: BMW leads by a big margin in U.S. sales. And Audi leads by a big margin in use of humor in American advertising.
Notably beginning with its highly regarded "Godfather"-style commercial that debuted during the 2008 Super Bowl, Audi regularly has applied humor in its U.S. TV advertising, in part to create a premium image apart from the stuffy "old luxury" positioning of BMW and, especially, Mercedes-Benz.
Now, however, BMW has found the humor muse. In a new TV campaign for the brand's Ultimate Service policy, rather than for any particular vehicle model, BMW features consumers comedically amazed at how little it costs to maintain a BMW with the company's no-cost maintenance program.
Each of the ads has the customer asking, "What are you going to tell me next?" after they're told that the work on their cars is "no cost." In one, a woman thinks the dealership rep is flirting with her, so she holds up her wedding ring. In another, a male customer misreads the situation in a comical way, too.
The approach gives BMW "the opportunity to tell" about Ultimate Service "in a fun and memorable way," Dan Creed, CMO for BMW of North America, told Marketing Daily.
Not to be outdone, Audi also has come out with a humorous new ad:
In this one, for the A6, a little girl says she's convinced that her "Dad is a space alien." The evidence? Clearly a fitness buff, he drinks "green stuff" and walks around in a borg-ish cycling outfit.
But the clincher, in the daughter's eyes, is that Dad "has a space ship." The ad switches to a view of Dad pushing the start button in his A6 as various pieces of electronics snap into place in the cockpit.
Are the brands going down the right path? A recent Phoenix Marketing International study of U.S. automotive marketing found that successful ads for luxury marques typically "have a serious tone," according to consumer surveys.
But BMW won the 2011 U.S. luxury sales crown, and no premium brand has more sales momentum lately than Audi. It's hard to laugh at that kind of success.