Audi has released a high profile campaign for its A7 Sportback model in Japan that focuses on the concept of feeling free.
Developed by Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo, the work includes a TV commercial and outdoor and print assets. In the TVC, a man in a suit runs at high speed through the empty streets of Tokyo at night, eventually becoming one with the car.
The print work has the car driving over the bay with the line, ‘What do you do with your freedom’? It will feature on placements on highways as well as in newspapers and magazines, according to a spokesperson for Wieden + Kennedy.
Wieden + Kennedy has worked with Audi since early 2018. The spokesperson said a change in body shape for the A7 and A8 gave the opportunity to create a new direction for the brand.
The car is attractive, and so is the work, which starts out feeling more like something for a sporting brand. The idea of finding freedom on the open road is one with universal appeal, and it's nice that it takes almost 20 seconds before morphing into a conventional car ad.
That said, while the runner does put a different spin on things, the campaign could have offered up a stronger challenge to the norms of the automotive sector. We would like to take this opportunity to draw you back to a time—more than two decades ago—when Audi was truly disruptive in its advertising.
Dating back to 1994, this work by BBH London for the Audi A4 stands out as one of the strongest car ads of all time (and doesn’t feel like a car ad at all).
Invoking elements of surprise and social commentary, Audi managed to turn the growing public distaste for flashiness to its advantage by making a statement about what it isn’t. It also managed to get in an unspoken dig at its closest rival, BMW, which was at the time widely seen as the yuppie’s motor of choice. Nearly 25 years later, it’s still as sharp as ever. (Trivia: Campaign understands that the concept was originally devised for the VW Passat, but was rejected.)
Of course, this ad was for the UK market, not Japan. So is it an unfair comparison? Perhaps. But the point is that doing something bold and unexpected can pay off handsomely in any culture, yet this kind of originality is now nowhere to be found in the UK either. Automotive advertising seems to work from a similar rulebook in just about any market you care to mention.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see a car brand take a risk like this again?