The recent Audi Brand Experience Singapore 2018 at Marina Bay Sands sought to defy the predictable template of static cars and show girls by introducing experiential elements and touchpoints that perked all five senses.
The five-day brand showcase was conceptualised as a platform for Audi’s new products—namely the Audi A8, Audi A6, Audi A7 Sportback, Audi Q8 and Audi e-tron—and to generate awareness forthe brand in local and regional markets.
Rudi Venter, general manager of marketing for Audi Singapore, says that the idea for the event came about last March as a way to jolt the brand profile in the region and to reach out to regional partners. While Audi gets exposure at motor shows, Venter says that this format of a standalone brand show was unique to this part of the world.
“We wanted to have a showcase where it’s just my brand on display and I don’t have to share a space next door with a competitor,” he says. “[Compared to motor shows], you have so much more flexibility if it’s your event. I think motor shows will still be there for the foreseeable future, but for us, [this event] is a good test case looking forward.”
One of the ideas that winning agency Team Synergy brought to the table became the show’s pièce de résistance––a 360-degree LED wall with animation. “When we pitched it out to a variety of different agencies, it was [Team Synergy’s] proposal to do the wall in a circular design,” says Venter. “The idea is that you walk through the tunnel and it’s quite narrow and as you turn in, your first sight is this massive expanse of Audi-ness. It’s almost like a birth experience, if I can put it that way.”
Inside the ‘theatre’, visitors can witness a choreographed demonstration of the new models. The 20-minute show runs every two hours, six to seven times a day. Here, lights are switched off and LED screens drape the ceiling and walls for a 3D effect. After a brand video is emblazoned across the screen, the new car models are driven onto the show floor and paraded while camera shutters go off.
“From a coordination point of view, it took a lot of time. The drivers couldn’t actually see anything because it’s dark when they drive on. So we had to put special LED markers for them so that they could park in the right position. We did a dry run to get the timing right and to get the drivers conditioned to driving in a specific way,” says Venter.
On top of that, a ‘virtual driving’ experience was created in collaboration with PlayStation. To emulate the fictional Vision Gran Turismo concept cars in the video game series, Audi brought the model to life. While it functions like a real car, the models were parked in the show floor and used as arcade-style simulator cars; this proved a hit among visitors.
Digitisation too was a central element, with car configurators allowing visitors to design their bespoke car on a multi-touch table as well as a virtual vending machine for official merchandise. There was also an absence of printed materials. “When you walk through the tunnel, there’s a voice prompting you to go onto the website to get all the information and a countdown
to the next showcase,” says Venter.
Meanwhile, to provoke the sense of smell, a fragrance called the ‘Audi scent’ is sprayed across the show floor. Some have described the scent as “tropical”.
Venter says that building a brand experience of this scale helps reach out to those who might not necessarily know much about Audi––or cars, for that matter. “It’s really casting the net quite wide,” he says.
However, it’s not an event without ROI. “It’s a very important event for our dealers because they are selling cars here, so obviously it’s also important to sell a certain volume of models,” says Venter. “Fortunately, on the media opening day, the coverage was really fantastic. I think a lot of the media came in expecting the same thing, but then you see all the phones go up.”
It’s still early days for the team to measure the quantifiable gains from the show, but Venter says he won’t be focusing solely on the number of walk-ins.
“If we look at doing something like this again it would be more of a biannual thing,” he says. “It’s also dependent on new products coming in. If we don’t have a lot of new products, it’s quite hard to justify such a large-scale event.”