Audi Advertising: A Then And Now Comparison

On May 13th, 2016 / By

Photo of the front of an all-new 2017 Audi A4. Used to illustrate the article "Audi Advertising - A Then And Now Comparison".

Vintage Magazines: Advertisement Museum, Collage Treasure Trove

When I’m not churning out content at my computer in Prestige Imports’ Marketing office, I spend a great deal of time paging through old magazines in service of my collage practice. My favorite source for raw materials (and, without fail, laughs) tends to be the advertisements. Specifically, I love to slice the language out of ads, re-sequencing the letters in order to create absurd or surreal taglines.

Last weekend, I took a trip to Kansas City, MO and Lawrence, KS. While I was in the latter of these two cities, I stopped by the Lawrence Antique Mall and purchased a stack of old LIFE magazines with the intention of cutting them up over the course of the next month. One of the issues I snagged was the 29 May 1970 edition that features a close-up of the actress Brenda Vaccaro on the front cover.

Audi Advertising - 29 May 1970 LIFE Magazine cover

Having perused several dozen issues from that era beforehand, I’m relatively familiar with the various brands that advertised in this periodical during the late-60s and early-70s. As far as the automotive industry is concerned, Volkswagen, Toyota, and pretty much every American model bought space between the covers of LIFE magazine around this time. One brand that has been conspicuously absent during my browsing sessions, though, is Audi.

This, of course, isn’t to say that Audi wasn’t producing print-based advertisements in American periodicals during this era. As my “spring cleaning” post from last month highlights, Audi’s ad game was strong during the 60s and 70s, thanks in no small part to the revolutionary vision of Art Director Helmut Krone.

Audi Advertising: The Orthopedic Interior Circa 1970

So I was pleasantly surprised last night when, while thumbing through the aforementioned LIFE, I found the following Audi advertisement:

Audi Advertising - 29 May 1970 LIFE Magazine pages 16 and 17 - Audi's orthopedic seats

Yes, there on page 17 (across from the masthead and a J&B Rare Scotch ad on page 16) was an ad promoting the orthopedically designed seats of Audi brand vehicles. The top half of the ad, as you can see, contains quite a bit of text, at least by today’s standards.

Audi Advertising - 29 May 1970 LIFE Magazine pages 16 and 17 - Audi's orthopedic seats - text

Boasting of an interior that was “designed by men who are experts on the human body,” Audi claims that their seats are both “comfortable” and “help prevent fatigue.” Moreover, the advertisement notes how the seat cushioning acts as part of the “suspension system” so as to provide the “bare minimum of jostle” while driving. The “advanced design” of the seating extends to all components of the interior, as the ad also mentions the industry-leading aspects of Audi’s “heating and ventilation system,” as well as other “vital controls located…on the steering column.”

After proclaiming the superiority of Audi’s interiors, the bottom half of the advertisement offers a view of a vehicle’s cabin from the perspective of the rear, right-side door:

Audi Advertising - 29 May 1970 LIFE Magazine pages 16 and 17 - Audi's orthopedic seats - photo

One first notes that the passenger seat reclines fully; no doubt, this signals to the viewer that the interior of an Audi is so luxurious that it rivals the comfort one would experience in the confines of their own bedroom. Of course, the reclined position also provides the audience with an unimpeded view of the dashboard and steering column. To my mind, at least, the minimalist design up front creates an understated beauty that I find timeless in its elegance.

Audi Advertising: The More Things Change…

While contemporary advertising and marketing agencies have shifted their focus to television spots, streaming videos, and social media outlets, Audi still releases limited promotional campaigns through time-tested, print-based deliverables.

For instance, Audi’s “Intelligence is the New Rock ‘n Roll” spots for the 2017 A4 can be seen and heard on network and cable stations, as well as Youtube and your favorite automotive review sites (the same can be said for the 2017 Q7 and R8 V10 Plus).

In conjunction with the the A4’s official launch, though, Audi produced a rather slick looking brochure that touts the updated features and “brilliant” engineering found in the new year’s model. In the images below, you’ll see the pages that Audi dedicated to the interior of the 2017 A4:

Audi Advertising - 2017 Audi A4 Print Ad - More than feeling. Audi Advertising - 2017 Audi A4 Print Ad - The rich embrace of refinement.

At first glance, the most evident alteration to occur during the forty-six year span is the reduction in the amount of space attributed to textual elements. Whereas the 1970 ad reserved approximately half the page for text, the 2016 ad uses, roughly speaking, about 1/8 (12.5%) of the page.

(And, I suppose, one could also point toward the inclusion of a Photoshopped, interstellar backdrop in the newer advertisement as another departure on which Audi’s marketing team ventured. No doubt, the cosmic background indicates the German automaker’s desire for pushing beyond traditional horizons. But only time will tell how this visual flourish will age vis-à-vis aesthetics.)

The content of the text, though, remains (not?) surprisingly consistent when compared to the Audi advertisement from 1970. The older LIFE spot promotes seats “designed by orthopedic surgeons,” while the 2016 ad champions the new A4’s “ergonomic interior space” that was “painstakingly designed” for driver ease and comfort. Both texts, then, leverage the science of corporeal well-being and its attendant language in order to sell Audi vehicles.

In a similar manner, the former ad mentions the “advanced thinking [that] went into designing the interior”; the latter ad highlights the “intelligent infotainment platform” and (not pictured) “innovative solutions” to contemporary traffic and navigation issues. Regardless of how many decades Audi has been in the car business, the automobile manufacturer wants customers to remember that their designers and engineers, above all else, employ intelligent thought when crafting their vehicles.

To this end, Audi hasn’t too drastically altered their design intent or marketing mission: to create and promote optimum comfort with cutting-edge technology. In other words, regardless of the year, Audi remains committed to producing vehicles outfitted with the finest, luxury appointments.

Prestige Imports: Home of Comfort and Intelligence

If you’d like to find out more information regarding the comfortable and intelligent design of an Audi vehicle, call Prestige Imports at (833) 825-5423 to speak with one of our Audi Brand Specialists.

You can also visit our dealership, located at 9201 West Colfax Avenue, to test drive one of the cars we have in-stock.

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