The market they’re targeting are petrol-heads, with a thirst for speed, loud raucous exhausts and flashy styling. Not the sort of demographic that drive sedately from place to place, with Classic FM piping from the stereo.
Problem is, around the world, there are very few advertising standards authorities that allow adverts to appear to encourage speeding or any form of reckless driving. So, when it comes to advertising the new Audi R8, a car aimed at the car buyer listed above, how can the message of the car’s truly awesome capabilities be accurately conveyed?
VW’s UK ad agency came up with an interesting solution: In intense slow-mo we see a bright orange R8m drifting and spinning inside a studio; then we cut to a birds-eye view of the car revealing it to be performing a doughnut, then pulling away to leave a tyre track ring, repeated to form the German car makers logo and a caption saying: “Speed isn’t everything”.
Not everyone was appeased by the car makers approach. Four people lodged complaints with the ASA in the UK (Advertising Standards Authority) saying the commercial was condoning dangerous driving.
VW (Audi’s parent company) countered by saying they were attempting to convey the R8’s beautiful design and poise, rather than focus on speed and power. They added that the advert was filmed in a private set, rather on roads, or environments where the car would be expected to be driven by customers.
The driver was in full control of the vehicle throughout the filming process, which was done at low speed, and the floor of the studio was treated to keep tyre smoke to a minimum. Instead of the usual rock power ballad – usual accompaniment for ads such as this – just the faint tinkling of ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ can be heard distantly.
Fortunately for the car maker, the UK ASA sided with them saying the commercial had a “composed and controlled feel” rather than one of aggression and excitement, and was obviously filmed inside a studio.
“We considered that the ad focused on, and showcased, the aesthetics of the vehicle design, rather than demonstrating the power or handling capabilities of the R8. On that basis, we concluded that the ad did not condone irresponsible or dangerous driving.”
So, there you go – doughnuts made responsible, in one easy take…