Monthly Archives: August 2013

Dear Audi


Dear Audi,

Thank you for showing us, through two recent adverts, how the same fundamental brand property – power – can be executed in drastically different ways.

First up you gave us the new R8 V10:

I love this ad for many reasons:

  • Product as the unashamed, unapologetic hero
  • Clear Audi branding, from the outset
  • Beautiful cinematography
  • Focus on the engine reflected by the neat Evolution on the outside, Revolution on the inside strap line
  • Unmistakeable out-take out from the ad: the R8 V10 is an uber-powerful car, capable of a menacing roar and, literally, spitting fire

But now you’ve given us the new RS6:

I’m not so sure about this:

  • There’s a lack of product and Audi branding until the very end – more of an issue on first time viewing and next time I see the ad, I will know it’s for Audi and the emotional relevance will begin to build, but what if there isn’t a next time?
  • Although I’m a big fan of metaphors, I don’t think you’ve picked the right one here, for a UK audience at least…perhaps boxing is more aspirational in the US than in the UK, but here I suspect that the RS6’s price tag will make it more relevant to senior City-types who are looking to get the family and labrador down to the weekend house in illegally good time – and those types tend to be more into the Six Nations, shooting and fishing than boxing
  • Whilst the Power from a less obvious place strapline works with the metaphor of the boxing referee, I’m not so sure it works with the product – even “de-badged” an RS6 is a pretty bling car and is noticeably different from a standard Audi A6…back in the day, an RS6 could justifiably be described as “the thinking/family man’s Porsche” and back then Power from a less obvious place would have worked but nowadays with all those highly distinctive RS styling features?


  • And even though I don’t think we are supposed to envisage that the ref is leaving the boxing ring to step into his RS6 and drive home – it’s what he represents that’s more important than who he is – he’s still the hero of the ad and therefore it’s impossible to disassociate him as a driver of the car…which somehow doesn’t feel likely
  • Also I’ve got doubts that an emotionally led expression of power (as opposed to the functional expression of power of the R8 ad) is right for the target audience. If a person is considering spending in the region of £80k on a car, in all likelihood they’re an actual or closet male motor-head. And that means they want to know about engines, horsepower and the like…does that person really worry too much about being “less obvious”? (They’re already being less obvious than the Range Rover / Porsche Cayenne brigade after all)

Thanks again Audi. Even though my real world head says VW, but my financially liberated heart would say Audi every time. R8 for me. RS6 for the family. A3 for the imaginary au pair / nanny.



Dear Apple

Apple Logo

Dear Apple, 

Thank you for demonstrating that marketing is a tightrope, that the lines between getting it right and wrong are so fine that even so-called “great” brands blunder from time to time. 

A few months ago you came out with this brilliant and visually mesmerising piece:

The very clear out-take being that you put people at the heart of your design process. Which is good. And does well to counter-act the somewhat curious and self-referential Designed by Apple in California strapline that you’ve adopted. (Sure, people care about the provenance of their food, but do they really care where their phone is from? Maybe they do, but I for one don’t) 

But now you’ve come out with this, which may well be representative of real consumer behaviour, but it feels contradictory and pretty depressing to be honest:

As Mark Watson states in his blog titled In 20 years, We’re All Going to Realise This Apple Ad is nuts, you appear to be encouraging people to choose the “experience of their products over the experience of other people” and you even go on to say that it’s your “products, not the lives they serve, are what matters.”

But I thought it was all about the people, and the products were just a means to an end? People matter, products just help, right? 

No doubt you’ll sort it out, but thanks for showing that it ain’t easy to be brilliant all of the time.

Thanks again 



Dear Costa Coffee


Dear Costa Coffee,

Thank you for your Coffee Coolers. I laugh in the face of an un-air-conditioned office when you’re just across the road, churning out these gorgeous grown-up slush-puppies.

Costa coffee coolers

Now I’m guessing that the weather impacts on your sales and that generally your core business (cups of coffee) dips a little over the summer. So what a fantastic product to be able to offer your consumers when the sun is shining.

I can almost see your needs map right now with Coffee Coolers proudly occupying one corner of the map, with the rest of your product portfolio deployed against the axes in a highly satisfactory manner.

But where to next? Where’s the white space Costa? Time for a new, broader map?

And thank you for your head-bopping ad from last year.

Attention-grabbing and catchy.

Or in marketing-speak, differentiated and memorable.

And what’s not to love about synchronised head-bopping?

Thanks again